LETTER OF THE DAY - Gov't lacks moral authority
The Editor, Sir:
The Government has found itself batting on a sticky wicket against public-sector wor-kers because of its "inability to honour contractual obligations". Based on my limited knowledge of economics, in addition to information gleaned from analysis of the Jamaican economy, it appears that the Government can justifiably claim that the parlous financial state of the country does not permit it to honour those contractual obligations at this time.
In fact, it can be argued that to do so would amount to irresponsibility at best, as this would lead to worsening of the fiscal situation and prolong any hope of economic recovery.
But of grave concern, is how the Government has been treating the workers. The ineffective or lack of communication and dictatorial approach, coupled with the irresponsible pronouncements from senior ministers, stand out like sore thumbs. It is difficult to understand how a government with trade-union leaders of the calibre of Messrs Pearnel Charles, Ruddy Spencer and Dwight Nelson as Cabinet ministers can commit such egregious faux pas and have such great difficulty in dealing with workers.
Of equal concern is whether the Government has the credibility or moral authority to ask workers to make the sacrifices which are required at this time. How can a government which is so generous in spending millions of dollars for sugar divestment, Finsac commission of enquiry, contracts without public tender so we don't know whether we are getting value for money, extravagance for residential and office refurbishment, etc. plead impecuniousness and expect to be taken seriously by the workers?
How can such a government ask underpaid teachers, nurses, policemen and other public sector workers to hold strain when goods and services are increasing daily without any end in sight?
In addition, the Government is guilty of double talk. On the one hand, they contend that they cannot honour the obligations with the workers because by doing so, it would damage the economy and jeopardise economic recovery. Yet, on the other hand, this same government adamantly refuses to allow the court to adjudicate on an extradition matter, even though such refusal is damaging the reputation of the country and might lead to irreparable damage, if not, economic ruin.
While it is imperative that public sector workers consider the economic realities of the country to ensure that any decision taken is not inimical to the country's best interest in general and the overburdened taxpayers whom they serve in particular, this government does not have the moral authority to ask them to make the sacrifices which are required.
I am, etc.,