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Major step towards regularisation for Public Workers

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell has emphasised that not all Public Sector workers would receive the benefits of the Regularisation programme that his Congress administration committed to fulfilling in the campaign for the June 2022 general election.

Speaking to reporters at a Press Conference held Wednesday at the new head office of NADMA, the Prime Minister stated that the 14-month old government will not be able to employ every person who is seeking employment with the State.

His utterances came as the government signaled its intention to regularise the status of the first batch of public officers by year-end.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell pointed out that government is being practical about the issue and would have to make sure that productivity and customer service are significantly improved as part of the effort to regularise these public officers.

He believes that if the public is given a survey to comment on what they think of the level of service offered in the public service, he has a feeling the majority would not be making positive remarks.

According to the Prime Minister, one main issue that the government faces with regularization is how to come up with a pension scheme that is beneficial to the number of persons who currently work for the government but have no pension outside of NIS and in some instances not even in the system.

He suggested that negotiations and compromise with public sector unions are two factors to keep in mind in relation to that matter.

Permanent Secretary at the Department of Public Administration (DPA) Lyndonna Hillarie–Marshall told reporters that imperial data has to be gathered to determine who is fit to receive regularization under the programme to be rolled out.

She said the decision will be made considering several factors including capability, behaviour, and performance.

She called for the support of all Permanent Secretaries as the Department makes visits to the various ministries to collect information that are needed to make evidence-based decisions with the exercise.

“We cannot just sit at our desk and make decisions as to how we are going to regularise those persons so the intention is for us to get a clear view of what is happening and the actual picture of what the public service looks like,” she said.

PS Hillarie–Marshall disclosed that the regularisation of Public Workers will be done in three phases with the first to look at persons in Acting, Temporary Assignment, and Probationary status on the establishment.

She said the process has already started and DPA is optimistic that by the end of December 2023, the first phase should be completed.

The second phase which is said to be focused on persons holding PSC contracts, contracts of service, daily paid, and persons holding ministry letters is projected to be advanced through 2024.

The senior public officer indicated that after the second phase is completed, they would be in a position to start looking at the third phase, which entails people who are holding service contracts as well as the Imani trainees.

PS Hillarie–Marshall stressed the need for clear policy directives and said that DPA is pleased that the Prime Minister and the rest of his team are supportive of this exercise and have granted the approval of the policy guidelines in the form of The Functional Review Strategic Framework which will offer transparency to the exercise.

She announced that the preparatory work for the functional review exercise is almost completed and it will be conducted through the combined efforts of specially constituted teams commencing October 2, 2023.

She indicated that the functional review aims to determine the optimal size of the Public Service as needed to meet the mandate and priorities in the various ministries and departments, as well as for maximising efficiency in the public service.

Hillarie–Marshall noted that DPA’s vision for the Public service is H.O.P.E-centered service (Happy, Optimism, Productive and Efficient) and they believe that the regularisation will help contribute to this vision.

The three public sector unions on the island – Public Workers Union (PWU), Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) and the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) have been pushing for regularisation of employees of the state in recent years and the theme has been constant during the annual Labour Day celebrations.