PSA president Watson Duke has sounded a warning to Government that the union is prepared to fight for workers whom he said are being asked to choose between their children and reporting for work.
Mr Duke’s position is symptomatic of what is so wrong in this country, where the culture that has been allowed to fester is that it’s okay to stay at home when you should be at work.
As the leader of one of the largest trade unions in T&T, Mr Duke, who has aspirations to lead this country politically one day, must understand the whole picture.
One wonders whether Mr Duke has analysed not just the cost of paying public officers already accused of doing little when in office, far less when they are currently on so-called “work from home” protocol, but whether he has data to show how productive these public officers have been working from home.
One can only assume that it was based on analysis that the Prime Minister adopted a hard-line approach in asking all public servants to ensure they earned their keep whether in the office or at home during the recent COVID-19 news conference.
It is astounding that Mr Duke can speak so glibly to this issue without considering that tens of thousands of citizens have lost their jobs during the pandemic because of lockdown action.
Many workers who were gainfully employed in the private sector have lost jobs because of action taken to protect the lives of citizens. Mr Duke would do well to understand many people who lost their jobs paid taxes and now cannot even afford to purchase devices for their children’s online classes.
If, as Public Administration Minister Allyson West has indicated, work from home is here to stay, the onus is also on the head of the public service and the PSA leader to work together to devise some criteria to gauge the performance of employees utilising this opportunity.
Mr Duke’s position has repercussions for many, including the very members seeking to access public sector services.
While parents within the public service may agree with the position Mr Duke is espousing, they should also contemplate whether it is fair to their employers to pay them to stay at home to do little or nothing. One wonders whether if the employer decides to cut their pay or terminate them due to a drastic drop in productivity, how they would maintain the very children now used as pawns in their argument to stay home indefinitely.
Mr Duke is right when he says let the chips fall where they may.
Ironically, it is the very same Mr Duke who has argued that “if you know the public service, it is a place where people are cramped for space. A lot of the places are overstaffed. Anything can happen and it can be devastating.” Come on Mr Duke, you can’t have it both ways. The public service is overstaffed and you are encouraging workers to stay home? What will you do if the chips that fall are the employees now being encouraged to do the wrong thing?
Shame on you.