Co-Chair of the Public Sector Transformation Oversight Committee, Danny Roberts has indicated that job losses isn’t the ultimate goal of the public sector transformation.
He noted that for “the final outcome of the transformation exercise to have real meaning it must seek to create quality public service institutions that facilitate an environment that is conducive to economic growth and development and lead to quality jobs, and a better quality of life for public sector workers and the public at large.”
Addressing the Annual General Meeting of the Urban Development Corporation Staff Association in downtown Kingston last Thursday, Roberts said that “we must through re-training and skills development prepare those public sector workers to seize on the opportunities that will arise through the link between quality institution and economic growth.”
This, he said, is to ensure that job losses in the public sector can be absorbed by the private sector in an expanding and sustainable economic growth environment.
He said that PSTOC is not presiding over job losses as the final outcome of the transformation process, but sees the work of his oversight committee integral to the work of EPOC and the Economic Growth Council.
Roberts said that conversations with public sector workers will commence next year so that they can express freely and fully their concerns, fears, expectations and desires, and that they are able to satisfy themselves that something is in it for them.
He said that public sector transformation must answer the question that every public servants ask: ‘What is in it for me?’
The PSTOC co-chair noted that there is a need to reframe public sector wage negotiations that focuses on positive outcomes and that “the birth of a new negotiating model that places emphasis on creating value and mitigating harm could result in a significant increase in nominal wage even at a 9 percent wage bill to GDP.”
Roberts added that the history of collective bargaining in the public sector has, by and large, been conjunctive, with neither Government nor Public Sector Unions able to get the desired outcome from the negotiating process.
He therefore called on the parties to examine the Interest-Based Bargaining Model, which is an alternative negotiating strategy in which both parties collaborate to find a ‘win-win’ solution to their dispute.
Roberts said that changing the attitude and culture in the public sector is critical to the success of the transformation exercise, and that while the Oversight Committee is overseeing the successful implementation of the structural benchmarks and commitments under the IMF Programme, the process has to be accelerated by a commitment to a change management plan that provides comfort and hope to the hard-working public sector workers, and is carried through in a manner that is respectful, inclusive, tolerant, transparent and fair.