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Thursday, April 18, 2013


Which one is correct? Is the whole greater than the sum of the parts? Or is it equal to the sum of its parts? The CSA will tell you neither is. On the contrary, they will tell you that the reverse is true: that is, a part or the sum of the parts is much greater than the whole.

The CSA initially asked for 16% increase, then they sought and persisted with 9.5%; but eventually voted to accept “zero”. Is the logic therefore that “zero is greater than 16 and 9”? But that’s not all: their logic was clear throughout: they also defied the logic that the TUF was bigger than them! Their clear message was their 3500-strong membership was greater than the sum total of the 9000+ TUF membership and they eventually reduced and applied that logic to their own membership: that a small group of 300 of them who embarked on industrial action was also greater than the sum total of their 3500-strong membership.

Lord Kelvin once wrote: unless you can express what you are saying in terms of numbers, then you don't make sense.

Perhaps, Lord Kelvin's dictum explains the dilemma of the civil servants and it’s a pity that they didn’t stumble on him despite all the research they claimed to have done.

What could be the “industrial principle” for all that “mis-calculus”? Surely, I don’t see any principle; I don’t even see a rationale; I see a motive. The CSA probably had as its major goal the destruction of the TUF and its eventual replacement with a super CSA akin to the NWU; but that was always going to be untenable, if not impossible because while there was considerable “dissensus” between the TUF and CSA, there was overwhelming consensus among the TUF membership who all accepted the 4%. So the CSA should have known that their strategy - which was probably conceived in deceit and born out of desperation – was also destined to crucify them; and it did!

So the CSA – in its heightened state of irrationality as well as fear of the inevitable - was left with no choice but to turn to its “own self” for retribution – a view also shared by Virginia Albert-Poyotte who is veteran trade unionist. I argue: unless there's an urgent reconfiguration of the leadership, the CSA is on an inevitable path to self-destruction, as it seemingly pursues retribution against its own members, especially those who didn't support it in the pursuit of 9.5%. And so it came to pass!

But the outstanding issue is: will the CSA accept the 4% if gov’t extends it them or will they return it to the treasury? If the CSA agitators believe in fair play, equity and have a sense of morality, then they should do the later for a number of reasons.

Firstly, because the CSA have received their “pound of flesh”, (that is, all the unwarranted free holidays they have enjoyed since February 21, all the pay for no work they have received, all the disruption they have caused to the economy), then they should do the honourable thing and return the 4% to the treasury as a down payment on the cost for the unnecessary collateral damage they have caused to the nation. They owe the nation a huge debt for their irrational behaviour.

In hindsight, the chronology of the CSA actions can be reduced to a comedy of errors, as apparently was the point-by-point case throughout their industrial action. They embarked on a spate of destructive industrial action when negotiations were proceeding smoothly. The negotiations had progressively moved on from a steep 16% request by the TUF and an initial counter-offer of 0% (plus $1000) by government to a 4% increase with conditions, taking into consideration the worsening economic conditions.

Judging from feedback from the CSA meeting yesterday, the organization is apparently in a state of flux. The CSA individuals with the potential, proven expertise and the credibility to put the CSA back on a path to discovery have  either been marginalised or overwhelmed by internal irrational elements who hijacked the organization.

The CSA need an intervention – one which will elevate them from their own childhood to a state of adulthood. My own view is, if this does not happen, then the organisation may well be headed irreversibly to the precipice of self-destruction. I believe we have not heard the worst yet. I am of the opinion that rational, hard-working and conscientious civil servants who constitute the majority and who were absent from the meeting yesterday will not allow themselves to be overruled by the decision of a vociferous minority group of CSA members who were present!

Raphael St. Hill - a former CSA president - confessed on RSL's 90-minutes with Shelton Daniel that the current scenario plaguing the organisation hurts him; I'm sure he is not the only one who feels that way! I personally feel that way too; and I'm sure the majority of the Civil Service and by extension the Public Service also feel that way as the domino effect begins to unfold.

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