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Thursday, March 14, 2013


In our current circumstances, the Aesop fable “The Greedy Dog and the Bone” is instructive. The Fable tells us about a master who gave his greedy dog a bone, but the dog wanted more! As he trotted over a footbridge and happened to glance into the water below, he saw his own reflection. Thinking it was another dog with a bigger bone, he growled and scowled at it. The reflection growled and scowled back. As he snapped his sharp teeth at the image in the water, his own big bone fell with a splash, out of sight, the moment he opened his mouth to bite!

The "games" are over and the battle lines are now drawn. No more feigned mystery illness which Mother Mary sowed the seeds for! The CSA is now talking about strike! The membership has commanded their executive to return to the bargaining table with clear instructions: 9% flat or 6% with conditions or nothing! The executive with tails between its legs has obliged and set out on that impossible mission.

The tone and substance of the message (using a popular phrase from former Laborie MP, Velon John) is "pellucidly clear": we (the civil servants) are the elites of the public service; we work the revenue machinery, we make the money for the country, and we deserve significantly more that our lesser mortals in the Police Force, Fire Service, the Prisons, Teaching and Nursing professions etc. It’s an arrogant message laced with an element of dishonor and utter disrespect not only for their executive but equally for their counterparts in the public service. It is more emotional than sensible; but again, those were the seeds that were sown earlier and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

The big question is: Why have all the workers – including those represented by the powerful NWU – accepted the generous wage offer by government and the CSA has not? It’s a multivariate question perhaps requiring more than a knowledge in calculus to answer!

What chemistry prevents the Civil Servants from accepting the wage offer? But even more importantly, what will be the consequence of their hard-nosed position? Will it ever bear fruit? Or will it turn out to be the “dog and the bone” fable turned real? What will be the implications for the other Unions who have accepted Government offer of 4% wage increase? Where does the problem lie: is it with the executive of the CSA or the membership? Was the executive being fair to their members all along? Were they negotiating in good faith?

On a “trade union” level, even more curious questions come to the fore: What is the fate of the seemingly powerful TUF? Is the TUF facing imminent self-destruction with the possibility of the capitulation of its head? No matter how absurd that may sound, it may be a real possibility.

Whatever the answers to the questions may be, one thing is self-evident, i.e., the CSA is showing its true colours: more money, less productivity; more self-centredness, less love for country; more irrationality, less sensitivity.

One would have thought because they work the levers of our “fiscal machinery” that, they would have demonstrated greater rationality, greater sensitivity and a sublime degree of love for country – that they would anything to save us from free all over the fiscal precipice; but alas no! They continue to drive the “fiscal machine” in that direction. Not even the rationale for the VAT – which seems to be their major pillar for their argument – have they understood.

The Civil service has obviously joined the ranks of political stupidity and are paving the way for their own demise and the ultimate destruction of our economy.

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