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PM answers question on reclassification

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While most teachers, nurses, and all police officers have been positively affected by the just concluded reclassification process, some 83 per cent, or just over 2000 civil servants’ posts have been ‘red-circled’. The civil servants are those members of the public service who are part of the permanent professional branch of the state administration.{{more}}

“The benefits are largely for the nurses, police and teachers,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said in Parliament last Tuesday, November 20th, as he answered a question posed by opposition leader Arnhim Eustace.

As he answered the question, highlighting that over 60 per cent of public servants are positively affected by the reclassification exercise, Dr Gonsalves described the exercise as a very long and difficult one, which previous governments spoke about, but did nothing, because they were afraid of the political pitfalls associated with such a venture.

He accused Eustace, himself, of trying to get political mileage out of the perceived pitfalls that are associated with the outcome of the exercise.

He said of the reclassification process, “it is something which is fraught with political pitfalls; but if you are a government, you have to be courageous, and you have to do what is right to improve the efficiency all-round, to retain quality staff…”

Dr Gonsalves explained that of the 1744 teachers, only the Teacher 1 & 2 positions have been ‘red-circled’, affecting some 366 teachers. He however explained that these teachers who are affected are those who will eventually go off to teachers’ college or university, hence moving themselves out of the Teacher 1 & 2 positions anyway.

As for police officers, as he explained that all of the 825 officers will be positively affected, Dr Gonsalves said that the hope is that as police constables entering the force will be given a much higher starting salary than they presently get, this will cause more secondary school graduates to see the police force as a viable career option.

He further said that some 100 new police officers will be provided for in the upcoming 2008 budget.

For nurses, only the grade three Nursing Aide position has been negatively affected by reclassification, Dr Gonsalves announced. There are 33 persons in this category of nursing.

Dr Gonsalves also said that a few anomalies exist in the reclassification exercise, and an appellate authority would be set up to hear appeals from persons who wish to make them.

The Prime Minister also said that reclassification, especially for the teachers, was one of the points of agreement that he signed with Sir James Mitchell in the Grand Beach Accord in 2000. (KJ)

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