Right before independence in 1967, Salaries Commissioner Gardener Brown published his report on the review of pay and conditions of employment. In 1973 Salaries Commissioner Sedgwick from UK published his. He recommended the setting up of a pay research unit to keep track of wage statistics and the index of wage movements. The Government went a step further and in 1977 set up the Pay Research Bureau (PRB) as an independent and permanent organisation under the Prime Minister’s Office to determine the:
– appropriate number of levels in the grading structures,
– relative worth of jobs and appropriate pay structures, and
– necessary changes in conditions of service.
The PRB published its first report in 1982 which was for the civil service only and the report was rejected. The second one covered the civil service, local authorities and the parastatal bodies and was published in 1987. Subsequently the PRB published reports at intervals of five years except for the last review Report which was published after three years only. But the forthcoming one is due in five years.
The PRB reports have been generally accepted by the body of employees and Government. Anomalies, errors, omissions and other grievances raised by employees/unions/federations have been addressed by the PRB itself or by third parties appointed by the Government.
The Directors of the PRB (Messrs Empeigne, Ramchurn, Appanah, Aujayeb and Curpennaick) who wrote past PRB Reports on the Review of pay and grading structures and conditions of service in the public sector (civil service, parastatal bodies, local authorities and Rodrigues Regional Assembly and the private secondary schools) although adopting different procedures have shown similitude and consistency in recommendations. They all aimed at working out a framework for a pay package (pay and conditions) to attract and retain the most suitable talent to the public sector, promote efficiency, accountability and responsibility so that the public sector is better prepared for future challenges.
They revamped organisation structures, created levels, abolished others that were no longer required. The jobs were always systematically evaluated on their respective demand – work and responsibilities, graded and pegged at appropriate levels in the pay structures. Changes to the conditions of service have been phenomenal over time particularly the rationalisation of the pension privileges, the extension of retirement age, the grant of passage benefits to all categories of workers, payment of end of year bonus, the leave privileges (casual, vacation, and sick leaves), the various allowances, training incentives, commuting/travelling benefits, duty free privileges and adjustment of pension of retirees.
There has also been emphasis on the grant of increments and bonus based on performance. The Directors could not take into account the economic conditions in the country and the need for fiscal prudence in conducting an overall pay review in the public sector. But there is one peculiar thing about the past reports – the Directors of PRB indistinctly went far beyond their core mandate of recommending pay and grading reforms. They addressed a full landscape of public service reforms and the need for a more performance-oriented approach to running the service.
In so doing the PRB has moved from simply reviewing pay and conditions of service to proposing administrative reforms. But the implementation of these “extra” recommendations like digitisation, training, HR planning is going at a snail’s pace. Recommendations related to the grant of bonus, increments and other incentives on the basis of performance do not seem to get any political or administrative support for implementation though we all cherish the idea that increments, bonus and incentives should be linked to performance of the individual players as in Singapore.
The PRB is not the implementing body. So there are many questions that arise, viz. should the PRB be given more powers? Should its Terms of Reference be reviewed? Should it be renamed Pay and Reform Bureau?
My wish in this 50th year of independent Mauritius is that the PRB will initiate the paradigm shift in the pay system linking pay to merit and performance and see the dawn of a performance-oriented, resilient public sector scaling new heights.
* * *
They came, they plundered and they left.
They killed our broad-billed parrot, which was proud and did not eat what it was given when taken captive. Sounds familiar? People taken into captivity who preferred death rather than slavery? Our noisy red rail which was so trustworthy and perhaps thought that this strange long-legged creature was a friend. Even when the hunters came with batons to kill it for food, it did not defend itself. It let itself be killed. Our docile warty-faced blue pigeon was easy prey for human predators. It could be knocked down with a stick and easily shot.
They come, they plunder and they humiliate us.
They seem so nice at first. They serve you despite being in charge. They have such a pleasant countenance and voice. You are impressed.
Then gradually reality sets in. They throw off their masks. They have already tied the employees with the whip of mental submission. They pay you a good salary. The door is wide open for anyone who dares to protest. “Just go, we can replace you with somebody from abroad because abroad means best, local means the worst.”
They come, they care and they leave.
They are real ambassadors of their country. They have understood something: we are all humans, our blood is red and we breathe the same air. I will give my life for them. They are as dear as kin, sometimes more…
They come, they care and they stay.
They are still ambassadors of their country. They learn the ways and culture of the inhabitants of the country they have adopted as their own. We should not call them foreigners but they are our own.
There is something great about Mauritians: we are hospitable and want to serve foreigners. We consider them our own. We have a ready smile to welcome them. We were born here. This is our land. My question is: how much should a Mauritian employee endure just because he or she has a family to feed when working for foreigners? Just like the red rail, even when the boss comes with a baton to kill you, you still believe he/she is here to befriend you. They kill you without remorse. They can replace you because you are an islander and therefore stupid. “Foreigner, we are not stupid. We love people. In the lap of nature, an islander loves, does not pretend to love; an islander respects, does not pretend to respect.”
We would encourage the authorities to save employees from some of those foreign bosses who enjoy life on our beautiful island and are paid a fat salary that could feed so many families here. It’s the employees who toil and those bosses are here to order us about.
I have some friends who just completed a Celta (Certificate of English Language to Adults) course at the British Council in Rose Hill. It was a wonderful experience for them. The Cambridge tutors were helpful and caring. They were humans. At no point did they show superiority because they were experts in their field. On the contrary, they were humble and simple.
I have some other friends who have had bad experiences with foreign experts who have humiliated them and showed superiority while giving advice and never accepting their suggestions. This is a kind of mental colonisation. It is as bad as, even worse than the colonisation that history speaks about. My friends are like our broad-billed parrots. They fight back. They want justice. However, most of them are forced to leave their jobs. Imagine you are in your own country, you have a boss who is a foreigner and he/she dares to speak to you in an arrogant way, then he/she tells you they don’t need you. “You can leave. You are not that competent.”
“How can a foreigner who has been given permission to work on our island, order Mauritian employees to leave their jobs? They should be the ones to leave and go. They are not welcome here.”
We would encourage the authorities to promote the English language, which is the lingua franca, i.e. the common language that helps speakers of other languages to communicate with each other. How to promote it? With the help of our primary and secondary teachers. They are doing what they can to promote English. However, to teach a language, shouldn’t there be a fun element somewhere? Shouldn’t it be taught in more realistic contexts? How about pronunciation? Do our children speak English correctly? I have heard that Thai students are benefiting a lot from the way English is taught in Thailand and Thai teachers are enjoying it.
There is something that still bothers me: We are in the 3rd millennium. I think it’s time for us to be independent in our thinking, confident in our abilities and talents. Each individual is born unique. He/she has the full potential to be somebody, not to change the world, but to better the lives of people around him/her. Talking about changing the world, why should others not come to our island and learn from us? Why should we always think that North America and Western Europe are the best? As a people, we are all talented. We should be proud and marvel at what we can make and achieve. Whatever we have, develop it to its full potential. Abroad is no better. If we go abroad to meet other people, enjoy their culture and broaden our knowledge and marvel at their capabilities, we will learn that all human beings are equal under the sun.
It’s true we have our shortcomings like littering everywhere except our own backyards! If we change our mindset and stop littering roads, parks, beaches, canals, rivers and our sea, our island will be beautiful. It will be like our blue pigeon, which has some rainbow colours. Though we are a warty-faced people, we still have rainbow hearts, whereas some foreigners who come here with rainbow faces have warty hearts and want to humiliate a free people.
Our strengths are our generosity and simplicity. Let money not taint us.
* * *
Association Mauricienne de Volleyball (AMVB)
Rejet catégorique et non-équivoque de M. Teeroovengadum des allégations faites contre lui
Le comité exécutif de l’AMVB a pris note, à sa réunion du 23 avril 2018, d’une lettre de M. Kaysee Teeroovengadum, membre exécutif et secrétaire, en date du même jour, faisant état des charges qui ont été proférées contre lui par la police de Queensland en Australie suite aux allégations faites contre lui, alors chef de mission aux récents Jeux du Commonwealth à Gold Coast, par Mlle Jessica Rosun, une athlète participant aux dits Jeux.
Dans sa dite lettre, M. Teeroovengadum précise qu’il a toujours nié d’une façon catégorique et non-équivoque les dites allégations qui, selon lui, sont fausses et malicieuses, et déclare qu’il clamera vigoureusement son innocence dans l’affaire. Il précise aussi qu’il est légalement avisé que, l’affaire étant devant une Cour de justice à Queensland, il ne serait pas approprié pour lui de commenter davantage les dites allégations faites contre lui jusqu’à ce que la question soit finalement tranchée par la Cour.
Dans sa dite lettre, M. Teeroovengadum a avisé le comité exécutif qu’il serait très occupé à préparer sa défense et qu’il aurait besoin aussi de s’occuper de sa santé, eu égard aux événements. Par conséquent, il a demandé qu’il lui soit accordé un congé temporaire comme secrétaire et membre du comité exécutif jusqu’au dénouement de l’affaire.
Le comité exécutif a accédé à la requête de M. Teeroovengadum. Durant son absence, M. Vinesh Seeparsad, assistant Secrétaire, agira comme secrétaire de l’AMVB jusqu’à nouvel ordre.
Monsieur Teeroovengadum, dans une correspondance subséquente en date du même jour, a fait part au comité exécutif qu’il a déjà notifié Dr Elwani, président de la confédération africaine de Volleyball, de toute l’affaire.
23 avril 2018
* Published in print edition on 27 April 2018
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