Falklands : Motion for Adjournment Speech by the Hon Mr Gavin Short (Dec 13)
Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 22.12.2013 (Article Archived on 19.01.2014)
Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, In rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I wish I could leap up and report for this festive season that all was happiness but alas what I am about to say isn’t going to make very comfortable listening for some folk. But it has to be said.
GS: Mr Speaker, Honourable Members, In rising to support the Motion for Adjournment I wish I could leap up and report for this festive season that all was happiness but alas what I am about to say isn’t going to make very comfortable listening for some folk. But it has to be said.
I am actually overjoyed saying that two of my colleagues have their levels of staff coming up to where they should be and their staff personnel seem to be quite good but I guess I have to start off by apologising to the good folk within PWD and Roads that I haven’t got to like I would wish but I will get to you. As I have been going around I have been taking notes and people – God bless them – speak frankly to me. They give it to me both barrels warts and all and that’s exactly how I want it. That’s the only way I am going to get the feel for what’s going on here.
As I say the picture I am getting is a pretty, pretty grim one. It’s one of discontent and almost hopelessness. We are losing good people to the private sector. Part of this is financial. In some cases they are offering far better pay rates. Probably some of the conditions attached to those jobs are nowhere near as good if people had stayed with FIG. But if your wages have been eroded year after year eventually you will forego those conditions such as your leave and sick pay and be drawn by the Dollar Signs – cash in the pocket. (Pound Signs would be better, Gavin).
I said in this House some years ago now that there is still a reserve of good will within FIG staff but that good will alone is not going to put food on the kids’ plates. That good will has now started to drain away as I warned you it would. And I take no pleasure in telling you ‘I told you so.’ In some departments from what I can see we are probably two resignations away from not being able to do some of the stuff that we do. Things are getting that serious.
It is not all about cash, though as there are some people are changing jobs as far as I can see for rates of pay that might be a few pence better than what they are getting at the moment. Folk are fed up with perceived indifference towards them from the secretariat and inflexibility in reacting to labour situations. This is not helping any. There is once again a feeling of “Us and Them.” And it’s so sad to see and made all the more sad for me because I believe we could have avoided this. I just wish that someone would go around like I and my Colleagues and talk to staff and listen to what they are saying and react to it. We can’t take on the oil industry and others pound for pound, nor should we.
I would never consider artificially control rates being offered in the private sector nor placing barriers in place for people who have a right to move to better paid jobs or just to try something new. I expected the labour market to become turbulent and I also expected the levels of unhappiness to rise as people started to move around, as apart from anything else it is unsettling on those who remain. These are because they don’t have the skills that the private sector want or perhaps they are trapped by age or something like that or – and I do hope the administration hears my words – there are those staff within the FIG who like what they do. They want to stop with us. But eventually they will go. And I do not say this without reason as I have been told by both old and young on some of those who have spoken to me have said that if their treatment had been that little bit better they would have stayed with us. But they are voting and will vote with their feet. They are either taking better paid jobs or choosing retirement to get away from the conditions and atmosphere in which they find themselves.
If I could just refer to a comment that my Colleague from the West made about e-mails, I don’t think my truck drivers are actually getting our e-mails at all but it’s got to the stage – just about right – where nobody is talking to them via e-mail or verbally. It’s a feeling of hopeless as they say. The MLAs cannot get involved in HR and Staff matters and it is awful to stand back and see what is happening. I plead with our central administration to get out there – to go into the workplace and talk to our boys and girls on their own turf. You will have your eyes opened, I assure you.
I am suffering from what seems like a bout of cantankerousness, I would just like to have a little blast at this new buzz word that I am detecting within Government – ‘resource.’ What is resource? It could mean anything from the lack of work boots to pencils. I suspect it means lack of people but please let’s just say what we mean. If we haven’t got enough people let’s call them people.
On a happier note – which is a state of mind I very rarely achieve, I know, I would just like to wish everyone here in the Falklands a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. But I would also especially like to wish everyone whether Military or Civilian who is here as part of the great organisation that is protecting our freedom and guaranteeing the right to liberty and peace a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
Christmas morning is going to be for me a rather poignant one as I will walk out the door of Sure (formerly Cable & Wireless) at 8AM on that morning and start my life as a full-time MLA after that so I wish you all a merry Christmas – Happy New year –
I support the Motion.