BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 22, 2021 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Team Unity-led Government of St. Kitts and Nevis remains fully committed to the regularization of workers attached to the Skills Empowerment Training Programme (STEP) into the public service as Government Auxiliary Workers (GAE).
This reassurance was given by Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris on Tuesday (October 19) during his Leadership Matters programme.
Prime Minister Harris said the STEP Regularization and Pensions Reform Committee, which was established in 2020, continues its diligent work towards achieving this goal.
“We have a committee that is headed by the Accountant General Mr. Levi Bradshaw and includes representatives from across several ministries including the Chief Personnel Officer, including a representative from the legal department, among others and they have done substantial work in that effort to bring advice to the Government,” Dr. Harris said in response to a question posed during the population virtual programme.
Since its establishment, the STEP Regularization and Pensions Reform Committee has submitted a number of recommendations to the Federal Cabinet. These include the rollout of the process in a phased approach; conducting an evaluation exercise of STEP workers to eliminate ghost workers; a review of the financing arrangement of the STEP to ensure compliance with the Finance Administration Act, 2007 including the funding of wages of workers assigned to the Public Sector from the Consolidated Fund, and a re-registration exercise of businesses and workers assigned to the Private Sector.
In giving an update of the phased approach, Prime Minister Harris said, “There are two categories of employees participating in the STEP (Skills Empowerment Training Programme). There are those who are attached to public sector entities, which could be the Government, which could be at the airport, SCASPA and so on, and then there are those who are working with private entities. We have a better control over those who are attached to Government departments because they are part of an organized system.”
The prime minister continued, “Mr. [Emile] Greene from the STEP Department should have, by now, completed an evaluation of every employee in the public sector and should have them ranked to determine their readiness for work. The recommendations that will come will help us determine which of these have been productive employees, which of these have shown the right characteristics because if we are going to bring them in the formal system they are going to have higher standards than now obtained. And so, it is not that we will bring bad apples, in a manner of speaking, over. We are going to ensure the best of the workers are given the first chance in the transition.”
The issue of the regularization of STEP employees into the public service as Government Auxiliary Workers is one that is expected to be discussed and progressed during this week’s 2022 Budget Estimates Committee Meetings.
The regularization of STEP employees would come with a number of benefits for this class of workers. It would mean that the workers would become eligible for appointment into the public service under the Government Auxiliary Employment Act and they will also benefit from greater job security and security of tenure consistent with the guidelines, terms and conditions of employment to be established in the Regulations of the GAE Act, 2020.