Watson Duke

Bavita Gopaulchan

President of the Public Services Association Watson Duke intends to block the government from freezing public sector vacancies, as he accused the Finance Minister of being deceptive.

Duke addressed public sector workers via a Facebook livestream on Thursday, saying legislative changes were needed to get this done.

“When I read the words of the Minister of Finance I trembled in my boots,” Duke stated.

During his presentation of the 2020/2021 fiscal package in the Parliament on Monday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced there would be a freeze on the filling of public sector vacancies because of the economic challenges confronting the country.

Duke described the budget presentation as “flowery” and “using words in a mad concoction to deceive.”

The PSA President who is seeking a third term in November, says the government cannot unilaterally decide on the freezing of public service vacancies since the Public Service Commission is an independent institution.

“They have to create an act. Why? Because the service commission is independent and that is in the constitution and they are responsible for filling vacancies’” Duke said.

He said once the regulations that guide the public sector are in place, it is a matter for the CPO and the PSA to protect those regulations

Duke questioned the impact the decision would have on the public service, since he claims, there are 11,000 vacancies currently.

According to Duke, the Finance Minister’s presentation was worrying. He stated there are approximately 62,300 police, prison and fire officers, teachers and civil servants in the public service. He pointed out there is a difference between the public sector and the public service, but the announcement affects all, including health workers.