The Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) is urging the Allen Chastanet administration to withdraw a Cabinet conclusion that seeks to suspend all appointments and promotions for one year.
CSA President Cyprian Montrope wrote Cabinet Secretary Benjamin Emmanuel on the matter.
The letter is reproduced below:
28th July, 2020
Mr. Benjamin Emmanuel
Office of the Prime Minister
Greaham Louisy Administrative Building
The Saint Lucia Civil Service Association (CSA) has been made aware and has verified that the Cabinet Conclusion 855 circulating on social media is an authentic document that seeks to suspend all appointments, including temporary appointments, acting appointments and promotions for a period of a year with effect from July 1 st 2020, except with the endorsement of Cabinet. This effectively means that Cabinet will ultimately decide who gets appointed to a public office for the next year.
While the Executive may have responsibility for setting terms and conditions for public officers and making budgetary provision for the funding of positions within the government structure, this Cabinet Conclusion appears to be usurping the role and function of the Public Service Commission as provided by the Constitution of Saint Lucia and reducing the Public Service Commission (PSC) to a rubber stamp.
The CSA notes that Section 86 of the Saint Lucia Constitution empowers the Public Service Commission to appoint persons to hold or act in offices in the Public Service (including the power to confirm appointments), and, subject to the provisions of Section 96, the power to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices and the power to remove such persons from office.
This power is not subject to any other authority except for certain officers mentioned in Section 87 of the Constitution, (such as the Cabinet Secretary, Permanent Secretary, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Head and Deputy Heads of Departments) where it is the Governor General who makes those appointments on the advice of the PSC provided that the Prime Minister was consulted and had no objection to the appointment of any person to such an office. Section 87 also provides for the transfer of a Permanent Secretary to another such office of equal salary by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister.
It has been established that the Services Commissions are created by provisions of the Constitution “to secure its independence from both the Executive and the Legislature…” (Lord Diplock – Thomas v Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago). As noted by Lalla, K (2005) the Commissions are independent agencies of the states established in the Constitution to ensure that every citizen should have the right to equal opportunities of employment and promotion in the Public Service…and are to be treated with fairness, reasonableness and justice in matters of discipline, transfers and promotion.
Having regard to these constitutional provisions and well established principles, the Saint Lucia Civil Service Association is deeply concerned about the contents of Cabinet Conclusion 855 of 2020. This Cabinet conclusion #855 appears to threaten the independence of the Public Service Commission and places the Cabinet in a position to decide who gets appointed or not to a public office. This is tantamount to interference in the appointment of public officers.
The CSA is therefore seeking clarification on the following: –
- What happens to a public officer who is currently acting in a vacant position for a specified period and that period ends before June 30, 2021?
- Will public officers be required to perform the tasks of the higher positions without compensation?
- What becomes of public officers who have been recommended for promotions and acting appointments and are awaiting the decisions of the PSC?
- What about persons in temporary employment including contractual workers whose employment may end before June 30, 2021?
- Does the Cabinet Conclusion have any impact on the continued employment of non-established workers who are currently employed at the level of the Permanent Secretary?
The CSA wishes to reiterate its support for the principle of noninterference by the Executive in the appointment, transfer and disciplining of public officers and is of the view that Cabinet Conclusion #855 of 2020 may be interpreted as undermining the independence and autonomy of the PSC and the constitutional protection guaranteed to public officers.
We therefore suggest that Cabinet rethinks its position and takes the necessary steps to rescind the Cabinet Conclusion.
I look forward to your urgent consideration.
ST-LUCIA CIVIL SERVICE ASSOCIATION
The Secretary, Public Service Commission
Ms. Peggy-Ann Soudatt, Permanent Secretary, Department of the Public Service CSA members
(Letter updated by CSA)