Sunday, December 27, 2015


More jobs for ultra-Orthodox

JERUSALEM (December 20): A strategy announced by the Israeli Cabinet will result in more members of the country’s ultra-Orthodox community finding work in the Public Service.

Announcing the move, Minister for Negev, Galilee and Periphery Development, Aryeh Deri, who is also the leader of the of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, said the scheme was a “first-of-its-kind plan in which the Government opens the door to the ultra-Orthodox population and places them in Civil Service jobs.”

He said that for decades there had been complaints from the ultra-Orthodox that they had been unsuccessful in being accepted for jobs in the Public Service, despite having served in the Defence Force and having a range of academic degrees.

The new plan would result in hundreds of ultra-Orthodox workers integrated into the Public Service by 2020.


Mixed payments for Christmas cheer

WELLINGTON (December 24): Departmental Christmas party budgets, released under the Official Information Act have revealed a sad lack of celebration for many New Zealand Public Servants.

While some Department workers were shouted a fair Christmas party, with budgets up to $NZ25 ($A23.50) per head, others were forced to pay for their own Christmas parties this year and some went without completely.

Employees at the Ministry of Social Development had to pay for their own party and the majority of costs for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade party were covered by staff fundraising and a $NZ25 ticket price.

The Defence Force had no party at all. "In lieu, the Chief of Defence will be visiting each area/workplace to provide a more personal Christmas message," a spokesperson said.


Really sorry, but you’ve got to go

MALE (December 21): The President of the Maldives said he hated having to sack dozens of Public Servants from the Ministry of Finance, but it wasn’t his fault.

Instead, Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom blamed the Civic Service Commission for not keeping proper records of the numbers employed at the Ministry.

A Ministry official said 75 staff would go and the Foreign Loan and Internal Auditing sections would be closed.

Hinting that there was more to come, President Yameen said several Ministries had established permanent sections which functioned only once in every two or three years.


Double dippers targeted

LONDON (December 20): Senior United Kingdom Public Servants will now have to pay back their exit payments, known as Golden Parachutes , if they then join another Department within 12 months.

New laws are aimed to put a halt to the “revolving door culture that exists in some parts of the public sector”, a Government spokesperson said.

The rules will apply to anyone who had previously been earning £80,000 ($A164,000) or more.

Announcing the move, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Greg Hands said it was  unacceptable that in the past taxpayers have had to fork out for golden parachute payments for highly-paid public sector workers who then went on to get jobs in another part of the public sector.


Pay your bills, Agencies told

ABUJA (December 20): All Federal Nigerian Agencies must immediately settle an “unacceptable” backlog in their electricity bills, the Head of the Public Service has ruled.

Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita said the unpaid bills had resulted in frequent disconnections which disrupted the operations of government.

She asked the management of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company to liaise with her staff and report any further late payments.

“This is unacceptable and it can’t go on,” Mrs Oyo-Ita said.


‘Tightening’ of FoI advocated

LONDON  (December 22): The head of the United Kingdom Public Service, Sir Jeremy Heywood, says he sees no reason to make significant chances to the country’s  Freedom of Information (FoI) Act.

Sir Jeremy has been accused of advocating a watering-down of the public’s right to request information from Whitehall as part of a review into the workings of the Act.

A consultation document has received 30,000 responses to suggestions there should be a charge for FoI requests; making it easier to refuse requests on cost grounds and giving Ministers more powers to veto disclosures.

Senior Whitehall sources said Sir Jeremy was not in favour of either charging for requests or cost limits, but was keen for the legislation to be tightened to make it clear what categories of information should be subject to Ministerial veto.


Pay deal to go to workers

MONTREAL (December 21): Agreement has been reached between the Quebec Government and a coalition of public sector unions over a long-running pay and conditions dispute.

The deal will see a base salary increase of 9.1 per cent over five years. The unions had sought a 13.5 per cent salary increase over three years while the Government had countered with 7.5 per cent over five years.

The retirement age for public sector workers will now be 61 although those with 30 years of service can retire at 60. The union had sought 60 for everyone.

The agreement will be submitted to the different unions for approval in the following weeks. Workers have been without a contract since March 31, leading to months of unrest and strikes.


Private perks stymie jobs drive

DUBLIN (December 27): The Irish public sector, released from the restraints of a recruitment moratorium at last, is nevertheless finding it hard to find recruits.

As one frustrated recruiter put it: “The public sector offers stability, but little else; it struggles to match the type of perks seen in the private sector.”

So acute is the staff shortage in the health sector that the Health Service Executive (HSE) has launched a recruitment drive to attract home 500 nurses and midwives who had left Ireland, with a €1,500 ($A2,263) relocation package, along with funded postgraduate education and nursing registration costs.

The HSE is also expected to introduce a campaign to bring American nursing graduates to Ireland.


Devolution challenges ahead

CARDIFF (December 23): Welsh Public Servants faced big challenges as the Province moved further from dependence on the Government in Westminster, Welsh Permanent Secretary, Sir Derek Jones has said.

Sir Derek said that while uncertainties remained over the next stage of devolution, more responsibilities were coming.

"One challenge will be the creation of a Welsh Treasury against a backdrop of continuing financial restraint.” Sir Derek said.

However, he said that with 16 years of devolved administration under its belt, he was confident the organisation would deliver with its customary responsiveness and professionalism.


PS reject goes on rampage

NEW DELHI (December 23): Distraught at failing an examination to enter the Indian Public Service, Balvinder Singh went on a rampage in the provincial city of Karimnagar, injuring 22 people, including his parents.

The 28-year-old software engineer, who was being treated for depression following his exam failure, took up a sword and went on a stabbing spree. Two policemen suffered wounds when they tried to stop him.

He then attacked anyone in sight, including an auto-rickshaw driver and passers-by. More police were called and Singh was shot, dying of his injuries in hospital.

Friends said it was incomprehensible that Singh should have been so upset as he had a good job as a senior consultant with Oracle Financial Services in Bengaluru.


Reforms — but no job losses

LUSAKA (December 23):  Zambian Public Servants have been assured that proposed reforms to the nation’s Public Service would not result in any job losses.

Deputy Secretary to the Cabinet, Peter Kasanda said the Government has put in place mechanisms that would safeguard jobs.

“Caution will be exercised in implementing the decentralisation reforms which entail a transfer of staff from the Central Government to Local Councils,” Mr Kasanda said.
He urged trade unions to begin an information campaign on the decentralisation reforms to help promote public awareness of the policy.


Plenty of promises but no money

HARARE (December 26): Public Servants in Zimbabwe had a grim Christmas without pay, with the Government now saying the long delayed December bonus would be paid before the end of the year.

· A    A week ago, Minister for Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Prisca Mupfumira, said the Government was “mobilising funds” to pay Public Servants.

However, in a brief statement, which emerged only on Christmas Day, the Treasury said salaries for teachers in December would now be paid on December 29. The rest of the Public Service would be paid on 5 January, 2016.

President Robert Mugabe, who turns 92 in February, has come under criticism for throwing a lavish State banquet for Ministers, legislators and top officials of his Zanu PF Party while Public Servants went unpaid.


 Healthy savings from sick curbs

DUBLIN (December 24): The Irish Department of Public Expenditure and Reform says that sick-leave restrictions introduced for staff in the Public Service in 2014 generated savings of more than €50 million ($A75.4 million).

However, the cost of sick leave across the Public Service, which employs about 300,000 staff, is still almost €320 million ($A483 million) annually.

Under reforms introduced by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, sick leave certified by a doctor for personnel with non-critical illnesses was effectively halved.

Now staff are entitled to three months on full pay, followed by three months on half pay in any four-year period.


Loan repayments ‘impossible’

KUALA LUMPUR (December 24):  Almost 3,000 Malaysian Public Servants are having between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their salaries deducted to repay student loans.

The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services said that the excessive deductions were an impossible burden.

“They should have deductions from their salaries according to their ability to pay,” the union said.

The issue has gone viral on the internet but the union said the Public Servants involved were afraid to be named in case they faced disciplinary action.


Broadcast money running out

SARAJEVO (December 22): Concern is mounting in Bosnia and Herzegovina that the country’s public broadcasting system is on the verge of financial collapse.

The crisis has prompted the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Media Freedom Committee to urge the Government in Sarajevo to urgently consider funding reform

Spokesperson, Dunja Mijatović said that for too long the country’s public broadcasting system had faced multiple obstructions stemming from the failure to implement relevant legislation.

The current method of collecting taxes via telephone bills to pay for the system expires on 31 December with no replacement in place.

PS News is in recess until mid-January

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