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In 1992, Civil Service week was launched to recognise the work and worth of Civil Servants. It was the hope of the conceptualizers that through the celebration of civil service and by extension civil servants we would bring to public recognition the value of public services and the workers that deliver them.
We were at that time dealing with a massive cut in the Jamaican public sector due to economic hardship and the hope was that creating awareness of the nature of the work and contribution of civil servants that a greater level of appreciation and value would be placed on men and women in the civil service that perform these thankless jobs and that our employer would ensure that there is protection of the workers in the Civil service.
Over the 26 years of celebrating civil service week we have come up with many themes that has always tried to celebrate excellence, sacrifice, commitment, resoluteness, challenges, quality, change, transformation etc. but we have seldom celebrated ourselves and the work we do but to dedicate and rededicate ourselves to the work of government even in the face of job cuts, wage freeze and restraint.
This year we once again celebrate Civil Service Week with a theme that is not self-service but another recommitment to the people of Jamaica, our families, friends, neighbours and passersby that we are not about ourselves but the people we serve.
We serve the people notwithstanding meager resources, poor work life balance, poor facilities, antiquated processes, threats of job cuts, low wages and precarious employment practices. Many of our colleagues who dedicated themselves to a career in the Civil Service are not here today to celebrate with us, some would have been near to or are at their 25 years of service to now be recognized. They committed no breach, they were not transgressors they were carrying out their jobs “Diligently and Holistically” but found themselves outside on the street for no reason at all. Their only transgression is that they signed a contract that caused them to be temporary workers.
While we face many challenges as a Civil Service we have seen precarious employment practices creep into our civil service under the guise of contract. Our ability to advance quality public services for a better Jamaica is being undermined. By entire departments being labeled as corrupt, that laws are passed weighted heavily on the premise that workers in the Public Service are the cause of the Corruption perception in this country. We have workers being dismissed by heads of Agencies because they can do so without due process.
We celebrate a civil service that has not been developed to meet the challenges of a modern day Jamaica where the workers are some of the lowest paid per capita in the Caribbean yet our wage bill is too high, we celebrate a civil service where we are the leanest in terms of size relative to the employed labour force yet we are said to be too large. We celebrate a civil service were two-thirds or 66% 115,000 are employed in Education, National Security and Health yet we say that we are bloated.
When we celebrate civil service week we do so to affirm to our fellow citizens that we are committed to this our Island home and despite how we are treated we are committed to serve “Diligently and Holistically Advancing Quality Public Services for a Better Jamaica”.
We as Civil Servants and public officers live this pledge daily…..
Before God and All mankind. I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart The wisdom and courage of my mind, The strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens. I promise to stand up for justice, Brotherhood and Peace, to work diligently and creatively, To think generously and honestly, so that, Jamaica may, under God, increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.
Thank you. O’Neil W. Grant, MBA President, Jamaica Civil Service Association