Critics of the public service need to understand the challenges before they comment.
President of the National Union of Public Workers, Walter Maloney told Barbados TODAY that he accepted that the public service was not perfect, but countered that it was not as some social commentators and even politicians tried to paint it at times.
His comments followed his Christmas message to Barbados and the service, in which he noted: “The Public Service is treated like air; when it is readily available, fresh and pure we often take it for granted. Only when it becomes polluted and we can no longer breathe comfortably, we realise how indispensable it is to our lives.
“The Public Service brothers and sisters make the difference between comfort and hardship for our more vulnerable citizens. Whether in our many social services, health, education, transportation, housing, security, rule of law or the implementation of public policy these are all services provided by ordinary public servants.”
While expanding on those comments, he added that it was only when these social services were missing or no working that people realised how invaluable they were.
“The public service has over the years been able to deliver services under some very trying times… Now because of the financial crisis I suppose a lot of social commentators and politicians have a field day blaming the public servants.
“The fact is that we have a service that is the envy of the Caribbean. Now I am not saying that we are perfect and that everything is good, but most of these servants come to work everyday and give 100 per cent or more,” he said. Maloney said he believed some of the criticism was unfair because the majority of those who complain about the services do not use them.
For example, he pointed out that the health service was again second to none, but a lot of the main critics were persons who could afford and use private service, rather than the polyclinics and other services afforded in health.
He said the employees in the public service as well needed to have a greater appreciation of what they did.
“A lot of it has to do with how we ourselves perceive what we do. Maybe we have to advertise and promote what we are doing more. There are also some human resource problems that need to be addressed in the new year. There is a move afoot to change that, so things are happening; maybe not at the pace that some think it should,” he said.
“Before they pass judgement, they need to understand the drawbacks. A lot of the public services still are not centralised, so often you have to deal with several different departments and perhaps that too is something we have to look at,” said Maloney. (LB)