Sunday, December 20, 2015


Welsh rule for Wales’s workers

LONDON (December 12): Public Servants working in Wales will need to speak fluent Welsh if they are in jobs where they have to meet the public, a proposed United Kingdom law states.

The same law also requires Public Servants working in face-to face positions in England to be fluent in English.

Further details of the proposals have been revealed in an Immigration Bill, now before Parliament. The new law is likely to come into effect in October 2016.

Currently, private sector providers of public services, or any services which have been outsourced, fall outside the scope of the new legislation. That could change in the future.


Ukraine ditches Soviet shadows

KIEV (December 11): Legislation has passed through the Ukrainian Parliament designed to rebuild the country’s Public Service, finally detaching it from its Soviet past.

Member of Parliament, Alyona Shkrum presented the legislation saying it was an opportunity to make a revolution in the Public Service.

Adoption of the Bill was one of Ukraine’s international obligations, and a condition for the European Union’s further financing of the country.

Under the new law, top Public Service appointments will no longer be divided between political parties under a quota system, but will be made via transparent competition.

A special commission, consisting of social activists, MPs, Government Ministers and members of trade unions, will vet candidates, with Cabinet making the final decision.

Those selected will be banned from joining political parties.


Corbyn’s wisdom passed to PS

LONDON (December 10): Controversial United Kingdom Opposition Leader, Jeremy Corbyn has been paid more than £1,000 ($A2,100) to lecture Public Servants.

Mr Corbyn, who Prime Minister, David Cameron has described as a threat to national security, is reported to have given nine lectures on the workings of Parliament. Sources say other MPs have provided officials with similar guidance.

Along with other MPs, Mr Corbyn, who has never served as a Minister, is also credited with helping the Civil Service Learning organisation write a handbook, Working with Ministers.

The Cabinet Office confirmed Mr Corbyn had been hired to make presentations, a spokesperson saying long-serving MPs from all parties were often invited to speak to groups of Public Servants about the workings of Parliament.


Workers urged to get close to poor

JAMMU (December 11): Young Public Servants in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir have been urged to get closely involved with the problems faced by the people in rural and urban areas.

Governor Narinder Vohra said this would help alleviate the lot of the poor and downtrodden.

“Achieving speedy growth and development in the country needs an efficiently-functioning Public Service to deliver good governance,” Mr Vohra said.

He was surprised to learn that probationary Public Servants were not paid anything and had to pay for their own boarding, lodging and transport arrangements.

“I will take this up with the Chief Minister at our next meeting,” Mr Vohra said.

‘Stop interfering’ MPs told

HONIARA (December 14): Plans to introduce new anti-corruption policies and legislation governing the Solomon Islands Public Service have been welcomed by the Chair of Transparency Solomon Islands, Ruth Liloqula.

However, Ms Liloqula said there would be no meaningful changes if politicians persisted in interfering with the everyday functions of the Public Service.

"At the moment most of those who are sitting in key positions in the Public Service are just not confident to do the right thing because they are frightened they might lose their job,” Ms Liloqula said. 


Sex act leaves Governor red-faced

MADISON (December 16): The Governor of the US State of Wisconsin, Scott Walker thought he was on a winner when he lambasted “archaic” public sector rules for the inability to sack two workers caught having an extramarital sexual relationship on State property during working hours.

However, his public denunciation backfired when it was revealed the pair were independent contractors who could be sacked at any time with no reason given.

A State human rights activist, Susan Crawford, said the pair had in fact received a letter of reprimand. “That was a decision of management which was not forced into it because of any Public Service laws,” Ms Crawford said.   


Maltese cross over ‘trust’ jobs

VALETTA (December 17) A row has broken out over the continuing practice of Maltese Ministers and top Public Servants by-passing Public Service employment screening processes to make appointments “on the basis of trust”.

The Public Service Commission, which in past years has criticised the process, appears to have given up and does not even mention the practice in its end-of-year report. However, journalists on the island are stating the practice is unconstitutional, and should be exposed.

Among employees appointed ‘on trust’ was a dog handler recruited by a former Minister; a ‘China liaison expert’ employed by the Ministry for Education, a full-time driver by the non-executive chairman of the Malta Sports Council and a charwoman employed by Minister for Foreign Affairs, George Vella.

Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat defended Mr Vella’s actions saying he had a right to choose his office cleaner, as he needed to trust them.


President orders hours crackdown

ABUJA (December 16) : Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari  has ordered Public Service head, Winifred Oyo-Ita to take immediate action against acts of indiscipline, from director-level down.

Ms Oyo-Ita said Mr Buhari had made it clear to her that the Federal Government would not tolerate any act of indiscipline from any Public Servant particularly in reporting to work late and leaving before 4pm.

She said the Public Service deserved the greatest attention and that was why concerted efforts were being made by the Government to identify areas of weakness in the service.


‘Secretive’ Government slammed

LONDON (December 15): The former head of the United Kingdom Public Service, Lord Kerslake has criticised attempts by the Government to wind back information released under the Freedom of Information Act.

He accused Ministers of double standards in trying to hold back information while leaking other material to the media.

“The default is to conceal, to hold things back,” Lord Kerslake said.

“We have, in my view, a yawning gap between the governing and the governed in this country. The only way we can restore the trust is to become more accountable, not less. Anything which seems to restrict that accountability is a false move.”


Pay freeze starts to melt

TORONTO (December 16): Senior member of the Ontario Public Service are to get pay rises averaging $C6,905) ($A9,972) as the public sector pay freeze in the Province begins to thaw.

Deputy Premier Deb Matthews said the pay rises, for 8,400 managers, was necessary in order to attract people to the top jobs

There has been a continual brain drain since the freeze began in 2011 with managers leaving for greener pastures in the broader public sector, such as municipal Governments, or in private business.

“With one in five managers being able to retire in the next three years, we need to make sure we are attracting and retaining top talent to fill these roles. Salaries are no longer competitive with the market,” Ms Matthews said.

Salaries for managers range from sub-$C100,000 ($A100,975) to $C300,000 ($A302,975) or more in the cases of a few Deputy Ministers.


Lack of education ‘worrying’

NAIROBI (December 17): A new report has found that less than one third of Kenyan Public Servants have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The rest of the 184,519 Public Service workers have lower qualifications or none at all.

The Public Service Commission's Statutory Annual Report for 2015 describes the situation as “worrisome…signifying very low academic qualifications possessed by most Public Service employees”.

It stated that about 10 per cent of the entire workforce in the Public Service had either primary school certificates or no academic qualifications at all.

The report assesses the extent to which the Public Service has complied with the national and Public Service values and principles.


Not such a role model

CARDIFF (December 21) A United Kingdom city that was held up as a role model for the Welsh Public Service has been listed as having one of the worst education authorities in England.

The Auditor General of Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas, put forward the Midlands city as a potential role model for Wales in the delivery of public services.

But the former leader of Bridgend Council, Jeff Jones said that Ofsted, the office that monitors educational standards in the UK stated that 5,500 secondary school pupils in Stoke were receiving an inadequate secondary education.

“Perhaps we need some joined-up thinking in the Wales Audit Office,” Mr Jones said.


Authority playing Scrooge

NUKU’ALOFA (December 17): Doubt has been cast over a pre-Christmas pay rise for Tongan Public Servants after the country’s Remuneration Authority said it didn’t agree with the new Cost of Living Allowance passed by Parliament.

Cabinet had originally said the five per cent wage lift would be paid this week, but the Authority said Public Servants’ current salaries were adequate.

The Authority said it would prefer a new structure “that advocates moving towards more relevant indicators of responsibility and performance to drive pay increases”.

Fears of politicised PS

WARSAW (December 20): Legislation that would remove a requirement that the new head of Poland’s Public Service could be a member of a political party, will politicise the Service, critics say.

The Bill would also allow the new head to be appointed from outside the Public Service.

Opposition parties want the Bill thrown out, claiming it would damage the reputation of the Public Service, but it survived its first reading 243 to 166 with 22 abstentions.


'New blood’ call termed ageist

LONDON (December 20): Comments by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) and Public Appointments Service that a recruitment drive would bring “new blood” into the United Kingdom Public Service have fallen foul of the Equality Authority.

The Authority said the wording of the statement was potentially discriminatory as it could “suggest that there is an intention to prefer younger candidates to older ones to fill the advertised positions”.

The warning came after unnamed Public Servants complained about the statement and about an email sent by Jake Byrne, an assistant principal in DPER, which referred to “demographic pressures” on the Public Service due to its age profile.

Public Service News will resume full operations in mid-January

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