President Steve Joseph’s address on building resilience in the Public Service

May 2018 (9th DPSU Biennial Delegates Conference) 

Theme: “Accomplishing and Sustaining National Development through Resilience and an A-political Public Service”

Resilience is an investment not a reaction to the impact of natural phenomena. Resilience should be our natural mind set in way of doing things so that we avoid making the same errors of times past. We are to learn from our experiences and mistakes and make the necessary improvements on our journey of human advancement. This is very consistent with building a more resilient Public Service. The work of public services is central to responding to disasters and the recovery efforts that follow impacts such as what Dominica, St. Martin, Barbuda and Anguilla experienced during the 2017 hurricane season. Rebounding is hard but necessary and for Small Island Developing States to survive there must be robust policies, legislation and the requisite human, financial resources to ensure sustainable development. 

Our approach to national development should be comprehensive and informed by proper risk assessments, risk management and intelligence to ensure that every decision, every brick or roof installed or job we carve out should result in making things better. We must first ensure the safety and the advancement of our people and then build bridges of unity and collaboration rather than walls of division and victimization.

How can we achieve and sustain National Development if we are yet to recognize that each of us has a right to be here on these small verdant islands of the Caribbean? We all have an equal right to live, to work and enjoy what our countries/islands have to offer.

We have the right to differ in our convictions and beliefs. We note that before we were aligned to any religion, ideology or political party or before we were even born the creator and nature offered to its people this beautiful scenery and bounty which each generation is obligated to preserve and free to enjoy. 

We all have a right to be here and to benefit from every legitimate programme of Government, every system or facility that generations, trade union visionaries, civil servants before us have created or fought for. The role of the Public Service is undoubtedly much more significant than serving parochial partisan interest.

The Public Service is a bank of expertise that consists of professionals and staff that must be fair and just, kind and honest in what we do. During emergencies our Fire Officers, Police, Local Government Officers, Nurses, Doctors, Emergency workers and other field personnel work courageously to ensure the safety of others. The unflinching resolve to Search and Rescue and providing support services to the displaced and affected most times rises above the requirements of the job, nothing short heroism. Public officers are the body of people who implement Government Policies, and we do so in some cases in conditions that are unacceptable and under resourced.

So to build a more resilient public service, we must address the make some fundamental changes such as getting rid of Archaic, repressive legislation and adopting the new legal frameworks that empowers the Civil service with autonomy and systems that inspires greater performance. We must get rid of the category of Non- established employees where they exist and discourage contract work outside the realm of projects. We must conduct timely Classification exercises and when completed take prompt to implement recommendations. A stronger, well trained, motivated work force, that is justly remunerated, will lend itself to a more thriving economy and well served citizens. 

So as we as a people aspire to un-peel our dreams and find our destiny and as nature would have it, be periodically visited by a horrendous weather events such as hurricane Irma or Maria, why can’t all our citizens, all public officers who are affected and deserve support be treated in the same manner? Why should we all not be equitable benefactors of state resources?

We may not all subscribe to the same political ideals but we all are citizens and the Government in power is the Government for all citizens. All Government programmes that are set up in the public service, particularly Post a major disaster, should benefit all citizens who require that service. Such just actions will truly anchor us on the path of becoming truly resilient countries.

No Public officer should be victimized or be subject to working in vacant post for more than Twelve (12) months without being appraised, where permanent appointments are required, these should not delay. 

I wish to remind us of the words of Alexander Hamilton (US Founding father):

“It is a general principle of human nature that a man will be interested in whatever he possesses, in proportion to the firmness or precariousness of the tenure by which he holds it” End quote. People must feel they have a future in the job they hold and find fulfilment in the service of themselves, their fellow man and country.

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