Premier Flip Flops On Public Service Layoffs

Melissa Edwards, Senior Journalist | November 14, 2017 6:52 am MST
Photo Credit: BVI Platinum News
Weeks after unequivocally assuring that the jobs of all public servants are secure, Premier Hon. Dr. D. Orlando Smith now says that no decision has been made on whether to reduce the public service.

“…No decision has been made, taken with respect to reducing the size of the public service in light of Hurricane Irma,” Premier Smith said yesterday, November 13.

He was responding to questions in the House of Assembly, posed by Opposition Leader, Hon. Andrew Fahie.

The response from the Premier caught the Opposition Leader off guard. Hon. Fahie said that he was confused with the Premier’s answer, compared to what he told reporters last month during a press conference.

“…The Premier just said no decision has been made, but at a press conference he said that no public servant would be laid off. Can the Premier inform this House if there will be a reduction of public servants…(His) answer says no decision has been made and the press conference said none will be released. So which is it? Hon. Fahie asked.

Premier Smith held firm to his answer.

“When I gave that answer to the press, there were no intentions of releasing any public servant. The answer to this question is that no decision has been taken with regard to reducing the public service,” the Finance Minister said.

However, this did not sit well with Hon. Fahie.

“So is the Minister of Finance saying that when he answered the media no decision was made, at that time you were not laying off any, but since then the door has opened for it to happen?” the Opposition Leader queried.

Premier Smith said, “No, that is twisting what I said. What I said here is no decision has been taken; that doesn’t mean a decision will be made…It is exactly what I said, a decision not taken…”

At a press conference on October 26, Premier Smith was asked if he can boldly assure workers that there will be no staff cuts.

“Yes, I can say that there will be no layoffs in the public service,” Premier Smith said.

Government workers have been on edge for following Irma as claims were being made that government will be forced to cut jobs.

The issue became more of a concern as government was late with payroll more than once. However, the government said that it was due to technical problems.

Civil servants have been shifted around based on the needs of the various departments and ministries. There has also been a system implemented where they must clock in their time in order to receive pay.
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