Three new civil service commissions – governing the hiring, promotion and discipline of teachers, officers in the security services and clerical and professional staff – are to be created, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations Colin Jordan has announced in the House of Assembly, in what amounts to the biggest shakeup in the civil service in a generation.
The senior civil servant in charge of personnel matters in Government has also been given a new title – the Director General of Human Resources.
Jordan told fellow MPs the commissions are part of a sweeping series of measures to improve human resource management practices and about bringing greater efficiency and effectiveness to the public service.
The new agencies are “an administrative, General and Professional Services Commission, the Protective Services Commission, which will deal with police officers, fire officers, Government security guards, Customs and Immigration Officers as well as Prison Officers, as well as the Teaching Service Commission”, Jordan told the House.
“This was done not only to streamline the management of workers in the public sector, but also to add a measure of efficiency to the process,” he said.
Government has also changed the previous post of Chief Personnel Officer to Director General of Human Resources. In explaining the change, the Member of Parliament for St Peter said: “When we spoke of personnel, this had mostly to do with keeping files and records, while Human Resources means managing workers in their employment as well as their wider development, the encouragement of the development of people.
“So some of those functions include providing HR management advice to the Service Commissions, permanent secretaries and department heads, and to advise the ministers in devising HR strategies for the public service.
“The Director General of Human Resources also deals with selection, appointment, promotion and discipline, and must carry out human resource management audits throughout the service.”
In voicing support for the measures, St James South MP Sandra Husbands complained of inefficiencies currently plaguing the public service, which she said ultimately affected the country’s economic welfare.
She said: “There are two things critical to the reformation process.
“One of the things from our culture is the sensitivity we have to criticism, so when someone tells us we are doing something wrong or we are being held accountable, we take it personal, so when our feelings are hurt, we act out by not cooperating, withholding labour, staying home, coming in late, and this sensitivity to criticism has been used by generations of workforces to tame and overpower the leaders.
“Another thing is that Caribbean people on the whole see service as a gift we give to people because we like them or our interaction is pleasant.
“But it doesn’t work like that in the real world, where service is a promise and has to be of a certain standard and must be consistent.
“Here, we use it as ‘currency’ to build relationships to get what we need, that is, ‘I am good to you, so I expect you to be good to me, if you offend me, I will punish you by not serving you properly’.”
In another development, Jordan said that the National Training Initiative, which is part of Government’s Retraining and Retooling programme (ReRe), is to be officially launched shortly.
The Labour Minister said: “The interview process has taken place, the panel has proposed to Cabinet and Cabinet has approved the appointment of a Director of the National Training Initiative, who has already started to work.
“The oversight committee has also been meeting to outline to the director the functions of the initiative going forward.”