Public Sector Productivity

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On Thursday, PSA President Watson Duke came out blazing for the Prime Minister, after comments were allegedly made about the… productivity of public servants. Dr Keith Rowley allegedly said many government workers “produce absolutely nothing when the day comes.” As the leader of the union that represents public servants, Mr Duke has a duty to defend their honour.

But, is the comment really that far off? For years, there have been numerous complaints about the work ethic among public servants, no matter what Ministry or State office. There are been innumerable complaints about rudeness, absenteeism, tardiness, and a general unproductive attitude.

Persons have reported Government workers “racking up” early during the work week, and earlier than normal on a Friday. In some instances, they have reportedly been verbally hostile and unhelpful to citizens. And then there are the instances where a public holiday falls on a Saturday. There have been reports of public servants making sure they get a day off work during the week. This of course is not a practice amongst those employed in the private sector.

The key thing to note however is that we cannot paint all public servants with the same brush. While there are documented instances of unproductive behavior, there are also many reports of public servants doing their job, and doing it well. What we need to look at are the levels of both types of work ethic, and determine what can be done to improve productivity.

The Public Service Commission should be called upon to either carry out, or appoint a committee to carry out a comprehensive analysis of productivity in the public service. This should also include feedback from citizens as to what their experiences have been like. It cannot be business as usual. These services are crucial to the running of our country, and are paid for using our tax dollars. It’s time we get some value for our money.