Monday , March 20 2023

Opinion: Employment on Saba

Dear Editor,

I am writing you about a problem with the government and employment on the island of Saba.

There are several areas where the problems are severe. One of the main obligations of our elected officials should be keeping the island’s economy intact and prospering. It is as important as keeping Saba beautiful. However, it appears that the companies employed by our government do not really employ many Sabans.

If you look at Saba Roads or Windward Roads, it seems that most of the employees and all of their management are from St, Maarten. As a matter of fact I know Sabans that would work, but their job has been given to a resident of St. Maarten. We Sabans do not understand that. Why is there not a requirement that Sabans be employed, at least a reasonable percentage of every contract?

I acknowledge that a few Sabans do benefit from these agreements but not nearly enough. In addition, the bulk of the money involved in these contracts goes to St. Maarten, a very small percentage stays on Saba and that makes no sense to us.

There should be a requirement in every contract that a percentage of employees including management be Sabans. I do not care what the excuse is. If these companies must pay more, then pay more. If the hours are too long, shorten them. Whatever it takes or that company should not be awarded the contract. If the elected officials state that such a requirement already exists, I would like to know what that percentage is because it is either not big enough or not enforced. I would like to know what is done to insure compliance.

Our elected officials have little follow through, so I will tell you, they need to check to make sure of compliance, actually look at the employees and check the books. With the millions of dollars in contracts, our officials should have the capability to do better. They should be watching out for Sabans, and they aren’t and they didn’t. When a job with the government becomes available there should be one required method of notifying Sabans, all Sabans, fairly and equally. These jobs should be filled by the most qualified. It seems like the best jobs are kept for favourites or family of our elected officials, and most Sabans never even know they are available.

This island has a very small population with a very small work force. Any job may be considered precious. Our elected officials need to have impeccable integrity when it comes to the fairness of handing out these jobs. A government employee caught stealing should face repercussions for their actions. If we are talking about a stapler perhaps they should just be fired, the more they steal the worse the repercussion. At the very least, regardless of the value of theft their employment should be immediately terminated. If there is a substantial theft, say tens of thousands of dollars, they should face criminal prosecution, immediate termination of employment and loss of all monetary benefits such as pensions.

I understand we had an employee that was caught stealing tens of thousands of dollars, and due to the lack of management skills by our elected official this individual was told to the put the money back and promise not to steal again. Really? That is the reaction? Perhaps you should ask any other manager on this island what their reaction to a theft of that nature would be. I cannot imagine one of them keeping that person on staff, and not initiating criminal prosecution. This casual attitude towards this offence is very, very bad management, it sends a message to other employees that theft is okay and it is not.

There needs to be a policy and procedure manual that managers must abide by. How to hire, how to fire, how to evaluate performance, how to improvement an employee’s performance, how to make sure an employee knows what is expected of them and what to do in any situation. Employment on this island should be available fairly, without prejudice, without favouritism or nepotism influences. There should be no regard to race, gender, age or sexual preference. This is such a small island with a very small work force. There are very few jobs available, an official that takes care of only a few instead of all Sabans causes more harm than they realize. If there is such a manual, our Government employees and elected officials need to re-read it and start complying with the procedures.

If there is no manual, officials need to have one created, and I ask why there isn’t such a manual. This is basic management. It is easy to believe that you are more important than you really are when power is handled poorly. Our officials demonstrate unfair practices, taking care of themselves and their favourites first. when they should realise that they are public servants, taking the best care of Saba and all Sabans first and foremost. Cocky arrogance has no place in public office. This was written as a comment in The Daily Herald by:

A concerned Saban

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