By Professor Richard A. Byron-Cox Phd
There is an ailment hurting parts of SVG’s public service, seriously affecting productivity, delivery of public goods, social cohesion, and trust between the executive and John Public at large. It’s public disservice.
The public service here means all categories of workers paid by the state. The laziness, negligence, incompetence, and downright rudeness of many working in this sector is commonplace. I too have been victim of the unprofessional, discourteous, and anti-public behaviour of these paid servants of the people.
Many clearly don’t understand that we pay them! Some police -broadly speaking-, are among the most notorious. I have written a special piece on that. Suffice to say here, some not only refuse to do their job, but actively participate in law breaking and disorderly conduct. I have pondered whether the 40 million plus spent on them is not in large part squander.
There are teachers who do not work on their birthday, leaving their class to gay abandon. Many are teachers in name only, present merely to secure the next pay cheque. The non-leadership of the SVUT care nought for proper work ethic, being convinced that its role is to fight the Gonsalves’ administration on every street corner. In fact, their in-fighting for leadership has been reduced to the trading of personal insults between the numskull president, and the equally brainless wannabees trying to replace him. The union is morally, ethically, and financially bankrupt, thanks to a president who transformed it into a bully pulpit for lawyers, de facto political castaways and intellectual imbeciles, nursing hurts born of jealousy, public rejection, and bastardised self-aggrandizement. These types do not just do a disservice to teaching and education, but to the union and themselves. This organization, once uniting workers who are supposed to provide an essential service necessary for further nation building, is now akin to cacophonous tribe lead by a semiliterate.
The public medical services are often questioned, probably unjustifiably so. Thanks to a notoriously unpatriotic Opposition, the gullible are left to believe that the doctors and nurses are untrained butchers, with one opposition MP describing the MCMH as a morgue!! Another of these MPs publicly accused staff of the MCMH of criminal negligence resulting in the death of patients. Why didn’t the hospital, nurses and doctors who attended these patients prior to their deaths sue that politician? This refusal to hold this irresponsible heretic accountable for his terribly incriminating outburst, gives rise to questions about the services at that hospital.
While on my recent sojourn home, I saw a small mountain of garbage standing in front of a primarily school for weeks. It was still there when I left the country. This is not the only incident. The present government long ago instituted weekly nationwide garbage collection, so who is dropping the ball? While on this subject, the Kingstown Town Board seems oblivious to the bold return of some illegal street vendors. This must be stamped out before it becomes a flood, for rest assured, “give them an inch they…”
But the grand prize for public disservice must be given to a sizable swath of the civil service. Many of these employees do anything but serve. I have gone to offices and witnessed this laziness, uncouth behaviour, incompetence, and negligence. Some sit at their desks warming chairs, happy in empty chatter; or mindlessly navigating the stratosphere. Many can testify that in some offices, the attitude of these workers is: “How dare you disturb my peace? Don’t bother me!” It’s a common refrain to hear members of the public accusing civil servants of “undermining the government” by their negligence. Some find it easier to appeal to a government minister on a matter the properly belongs in the domain of the civil servant, hoping their vote gives leverage.
Oh, and let’s not forget the politicians. There are Ministers who will give you their number promising to address X or Y issue, but then refuse to answer your call even if thy kingdom come! We are but voting cattle to be ignored save at elections. These are masters, not servants!
All supra dictum in no way disputes that there are public servants who are most efficacious in their work. Rather, the mangy sheep need to shape up or ship out. Dead weight must be cast overboard! Their disregard for professionalism and disrespect for the public are disservice not only to the individuals who they so callously mistreat, but to this nation as a whole. Public disservice is dishonourable!