The Public Workers’ Union takes this opportunity to inform and clearly establish to all Citizens of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique that this Union’s sole objective is to safeguard and preserve the rights, privileges and freedom of its members (public officers), citizens of this country.
As a trade union, the PWU has a responsibility to represent the employed and the unemployed and to guard against any issue that it recognises would present grave implications for the stability of members and present challenges now or in the future. Therefore, the PWU reiterate clearly that it does not have, and never had, any opposition to employment, and most importantly the employment of Nurses. It welcomes and supports employment, however, the PWU opposes the practice of employment through a private agency, which it views as detrimental to the Public Service in general and undermines the system and stability of employment of public officers.
Citizens, our wise and noble forefathers had foresight and a vision for a neutral Public Service. They recognised the importance of insulating public officers from the political directorate who would become the Government and the policy makers of the Country. Therefore, they did not just institute laws, they enshrined in the Constitution of Grenada the roles of the various offices of the Public Service and above all how appointments to these offices must be made. They safeguarded and secured public officers appointment by preserving it in the Constitution, making any changes to this appointment only possible through a national referendum of 2/3 majority of citizens. They created the Public Service Commission and made it a check and balance to give it some semblance of independence from the political directorate.
However, placing faith in the Government of the day, to exhibit impartiality in its operations, it made the Prime Minister responsible for appointing the majority of members to the Commission as well as the Chairman. One wonders if this was the one error made by our wise forefathers. Therefore, what do you believe the attempt by Government to employ Nurses through a private agency does to the objective and desire of our forefathers to insulate the appointment of public officers from the political directorate? Does this violate the foundation for shielding the appointment of public officers? Can it be upheld and justified on the grounds of not increasing the numbers of the established Public Service? If this can be achieved in this simple manner then it appears that the objective of our forefathers was not met.
This appears to suggest that our Constitution is a simple document that does not require a two thirds referendum by citizens to be revised and can be reformed and violated at any time by the policy of the Government of the day when and under any circumstances it sees fit. Was this the intention of our forefathers? Does this demonstrate respect for our constitution and the rights of citizens, the laws and institutions of our land? Does this demonstrate the standards of a country that upholds the principles and ideals of good governance and integrity? Does this demonstrate the values of a country that upholds the ideals of justice and involvement of the people in the constitutional reform process?
THE ESSENCE OF THE FOUNDATION OF PUBLIC OFFICERS EMPLOYMENT IS BEING THREATENED
Citizens, public officers, our Constitution of Grenada created checks and balances to seek to guard public officers from the Executive. Section 84 (1) and (2) of the constitution enshrined the appointment of public officers under the Public Service Commission. This appointment is therefore, considered free from the influence of the executive.
This appears to give every citizen within the state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique a free and fair chance to gain employment within the Public Service under the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in Section 1 of the Constitution. Section 84 (1) and (2) therefore clearly explains that the power to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the public service, confirm appointments, exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such persons from office, and the power to grant leave, shall vest in the Public Service Commission.
The PSC may by directions in writing and subject to such conditions as it thinks fit, delegate any of its powers under subsection (1) of this section to any one or more members of the Commission or, with the consent of the Prime Minister, to any public officer. This raises two very important questions, what is the public service and who is a public officer? The constitution did not fail to provide an answer to these questions under Article 111. Sect. 1 it states that ““the public service” means, subject to the provisions of this section, the service of the Crown in a civil capacity in respect of the government of Grenada;”.
“Public officer” means any office of emolument in the public service;” or “public officer” means a person holding or acting in any public office”. How then could it be debated that a Nurse working in a public hospital is not holding or acting in a public office and is not a public officer based on this definition? Is the Nurse not providing a service in a civil capacity in respect of the government of Grenada? Why are our Nurses, public officers referred to as “existing providers of such service” by officials of Government?
These officers once they step into the walls of a Public Health facility are providing services of the crown in a civil capacity in respect of the government of Grenada and in fact are public officers. In fact, any person working within a public office and providing services of a civil capacity is in truth and in fact a public officer. Therefore, whether it is clerical, administrative services or technical services as long as it is services of the crown in a civil capacity in respect of the government of Grenada that officer is in fact a public officer.
The simple cry of the Public Workers’ Union is to uphold the constitutional appointment of public officers. Keep our public officers insulated from the executive. The desire of our forefathers was to preserve the Public Service and safeguard its continuation in periods when the Public Service is operated solely by public officers. Therefore, should the civil services of the state to its citizens be operated under the same principles of the private sector?
By clearly outlining how public officers should be appointed into the public service under the Public Service Commission the constitution sought to safeguard their stability for continuation of the Public Service. In so doing the composition and powers of the Commission created many checks and balances to ensure the running and functioning of our country during transition periods of Governments before and after any general election and create the separation of powers.
The PSC consists of a Chairman and four other members. The Chairman and two members are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister. The other two members are appointed by the Governor-General on the advice of the Prime Minister after consultation with the representative bodies namely the Public Workers’ Union and the Grenada Union of Teachers. (Article 83 Sect. 1).
It further strengthened the Commission by ensuring that the members who are allowed to serve on this body were not a Senator or Member of the House of representative, a Judge of the Court of Appeal or the High Court or a public officer. (Article 83 Sect. 2). This therefore, ensures that the PSC as far as possible is free from bias.
The Public Workers’ Union therefore is willing and ready to welcome Public Officers in the true meaning of the word, into the Public Service. The PWU objective is to ensure these officers enjoy all the rights and privileges provided in our constitution for public officers.
PWU and its members are fully cognisant of the limited staffing in our health care facilities that create fatigue and health challenges to its members and is frustrated expressing concerns in this regard. Therefore, the PWU welcomes the employment of citizens to provide citizen-centered public service under the same equity and stability of tenure as enshrined in our Constitution.
The question is why would the IMF insist against the provision of quality health care for citizens of Grenada? Why would the IMF prevent the Government from implementing the requisite numbers of staff to ultimately achieve this goal?
It was not the intention of our forefathers to have any public officer exposed to the victimisation and desires of the political directorate by being given second class employment, and as such the PWU would not support such a decision by the Government on the advice of the IMF who said that the programme was that of the Government of Grenada.
Every citizen of this country of Grenada has a right to be treated as denoted in our National Pledge which states “…Liberty, Justice and Equality for all.” Further, our Government above all others have to set the first example to honour the words of our National Pledge that states “…I pledge also that I shall defend and uphold the Honour, Dignity and Laws and Institutions of my country.”
Is it then that we can simply violate our laws and institutions in the name as stated by the government “not increasing the established public service staff which size has come in for serious criticisms over the years by reputable financial institutions for being too bloated,” “…further increasing the established staff would jeopardise the Government’s home grown Structural Adjustment Programme, which programme was arranged in sync with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)”.
Citizens, would IMF officials and citizens of the United States of America accept this explanation by President Obama to violate their Constitution which governs the basis of democracy within their nation? Would they allow that explanation to hinder the provision of quality health care to citizens of the USA which is a very important and critical need to its citizens and a factor that determines the Presidency of the USA? Therefore, should our Government violate our Constitution and not be made to provide Constitutional employment to our citizens. Should Government coin employment to our citizens, health care providers, Nurses as “humanitarian effort, to the vulnerable?”
These are the words of officials of government not the Public Workers’ Union. Are our Nurses begging? Is this the treatment that citizens deserve? Should Nurses be allowed to be treated any less than what we all deserve under our constitution, first-class citizenship? Is our Government not employed to seek the best interest of all its citizens?
One reason why the Commission was given the authority to establish and remove public officers at will was to prevent exposure from the political directorate’s desire to hire and fire public officers at will. The Commission is therefore given supreme independence in the exercise of its functions and is not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
Further, the Commission has the authority to regulate its own procedure and, with the consent of the Prime Minister, may confer powers or impose duties on any public officer or on any authority of the Government of Grenada for the purpose of the exercise of its functions.
The PSC is therefore a body whose members cannot be changed if the Government wishes to do so, for reason, or reasons that are superficial, as a member of the Commission can be removed from office before the end of its three year term only for inability to exercise the functions of his office arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause.
In addition, this can only be carried out through a tribunal established by the Governor General. (Article 83 Sect. 6 & 7). These checks and balances the PWU believes makes the Public Service Commission an independent body removed from Executive powers. Therefore, safeguarding the employment of public officers as it is under the control of the PSC a check and balance purposefully created by our fore-fathers who so ably wrote our Constitution and created a structure that appears to seek to insulate public officers from the executive powers.
The Public Workers’ Union is not opposed to employment. The PWU seeks to safeguard and preserve the rights and privileges of public officers. The PWU seeks to ensure the continuation of the Public Service so that all our children and children’s children who wish to serve can do so as first-class citizens and true public officers.
The PWU seeks to ensure that public officers can enjoy a Pension, benefits and privileges of the Public Service just like true public officers of yesteryear. The PWU condemns and is opposed to any other form of employment for public officers and challenges its Government to uphold our constitution and honour the words of the National Pledge of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.