Our Readers' Opinions
November 6, 2015
Practice of promotions in the public service a concern – PSU

2nd November, 2015

Mr Maxwell Charles

Honourable Minister of National Reconciliation,

The Public Service, Labour, Information and Ecclesiastical Affairs

Ministerial Building


Dear Mr Minister,

Government Practice of Appointments and Promotions within the Civil Service

It is with deep concern that I write concerning the above captioned. For quite some time the Union has been observing the manner in which appointments and promotions are made within the Civil Service. I herein refer to:{{more}}

a. The transfer, appointments and promotion of career educators out of the school system and into high senior level positions within the Civil Service Administration; and

b. Appointments and promotions of Civil Servants that completely ignore any consideration of the legislative principles of seniority and relevant experience among competing candidates.

Notwithstanding the fact that, as per the Civil Service Orders, all officers are liable for transfer to any post of equivalent grade in the state, the PSU is well aware that the current practice serves a dual purpose, that is to say, an unrequested transfer is often viewed as a means to punish the public servant(s) concerned, whereas a transfer on appointment or promotion is essentially used to reward the officer(s) concerned.

Investigations carried out by the PSU suggest that most of the transfers that are intended to reward the officers concerned are based almost entirely on considerations that are unrelated to any relevance of the officers’ academic training, knowledge and experience of civil service administration, and the technical area(s) into which the officer(s) is/are placed.

As it relates to the transfer of career educators into the Civil Service I wish to reference a recent case that came to the attention of the judiciary. Just recently the High Court of St Vincent and the Grenadines ruled that the transfer of a primary school principal, a career educator, to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) was irrational and illegal, a ruling which was later upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal. This ruling raises a number of legitimate questions, and most certainly it would have implications for those career educators who have been transferred out of the school system and have been appointed to such posts as Permanent Secretary and other top position in the Civil Service. Shouldn’t these appointments also be considered irrational and illegal? In the absence of any established transparent and objective system of performance evaluation, what then are the criteria by which these career educators are transferred out of the school system and given such appointments within the Civil Service Administration? Are there not any suitable officers from within the Civil Service body with the competence, training and experience to fill the vacant posts of Permanent Secretary, or any other top positions in the Civil Service?

This pesky situation is being further exacerbated by the iniquitous way in which promotions are made throughout the general Civil Service. The practice now seems to be one of “leapfrogging” – junior officers are promoted ahead of their senior counterparts with little regard given to the legislative principles of seniority, relevant experience and training. Furthermore, the practice is bereft of the guiding principles of transparency and objectivity.

The PSU warns that these practices serve only to demoralize and de-motivate hardworking career civil servants, lower productivity and increase the cost to Government. It is therefore likely that civil servants may also develop an attitude of “anything goes,” which may in turm affect the quality of service rendered to the general public.

The PSU, therefore, calls on your good office to urgently address these concerns. And, in so doing, is requesting a meeting with you and all other relevant stakeholders to further discuss these concerns, towards an amicable solution.

Looking forward to a speedy response

Yours sincerely

Elroy Boucher


C.C: The Hon Prime Minister

Chairman – Public Service Commission