By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A trade union leader has slammed assertions that just 1 per cent of the civil service is highly skilled, accusing the Government of using this to justify handing jobs to “PLP cronies”.
John Pinder, the Bahamas Public Services Union’s (BPSU) president, said he would “challenge any day of the week” comments by Khaalis Rolle, minister of state for investments, that just 200 of the 19,000-strong public sector possess top-level technical competencies.
Mr Pinder told Tribune Business that the real problem was how the civil service was being managed, with many workers not given opportunities to gain experience or extra qualifications.
He added that persons with Masters degrees were often treated as “overqualified”, and placed in positions below their skill levels, with the Government also relying on external consultants to perform work that could be done by the civil service.
And the BPSU chief also warned that the Government was failing to retain its best people because the salaries, benefits and other terms on offer did not match what they could earn in the private sector.
Mr Pinder was responding after Mr Rolle last week described as “a sobering statistic” the fact that just 1 per cent of the public service was highly skilled.
“My first impression of that is Mr Rolle is trying to keep justifying bringing back in these old permanent secretaries, and to justify giving jobs to PLP cronies,” Mr Pinder told Tribune Business.
“I don’t know where Mr Rolle got his statistics from. I don’t buy that story. I will challenge that any day of the week. I challenge him to bring that information.
“They refuse to do a human resources audit. Tell him to stop this foolishness. These politicians, especially in Cabinet, don’t know enough about the public service and keep screwing it up trying to micromanage it.”
Mr Pinder said the Government frequently failed to place, or advance, civil servants in the positions they were trained and qualified for. Yet it sometimes ended up bringing the same person back in, to do the same work, but as a consultant.
“Right now, they have a consultant at the Ministry of Finance, Jack Collie,” Mr Pinder said. “He’s a career public servant and one of the most qualified.
“They would not give him the director of internal audit post, for which he is qualified. Yet they brought him back as a consultant to do the same work.”
Mr Pinder then turned to the Ministry of Works, where he said two employees - a Bahamian and expatriate - had gone to the same university, and the Bahamian obtained the higher grades. Yet the expatriate, he claimed, was the Bahamian’s boss.
“There’s a lady sitting at the Treasury as a receptionist who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in human resources,” the BPSU chief added.
“I can name you several persons who have masters degrees, and people with degrees to carry out specific jobs, and are hired as general workers.”
Mr Pinder then told Tribune Business that “the salaries aren’t attractive enough” in the public sector to retain highly-skilled persons.
He said the Government had spent $500,000 on training senior police officers such as Marvin Dames and Quinn McCartney, only for the duo to leave for lucrative jobs with Baha Mar.
“Baha Mar is picking them all off, because Baha Mar recognises their quality and experience,” Mr Pinder added. “They [the Government] keep paying peanuts and end up with monkeys.”