A court ruling on salary Structure for Government Legal Officers has ignited into a possible crisis within the Public Sector given the windows of opportunities it has opened up.
46 Staff from the Department of Finance and Treasury have petitioned the Vanuatu Government to seriously consider the precedence being set on salary scales for the Attorney General, the Public Prosecutor, Legal Officers for the State Law Office, Public Solicitor and the many officers within these units.
There is wide concern from the DoF Staff that such actions to set a high salary structure for any commission will and can be seen as unfair across the Public Sector.
The petition from the DoF also state that the payroll is over valued for Government legal reps and given the Financial standings, the Vanuatu Government will find difficulties financing the huge salary scales.
Though an existing Court Judgment Case No. 17/1817SC/JUDR, on remuneration packages for Government legal aids has sound legal basis, the DoF staff say the Government must consider the whole Public Sector and not just one commission.
There is a major concern from the DoF that the huge salary scales for Government Legal Officers once effective, will have ripple effects across the Public Service and the following outcomes will be a total chaos for the Vanuatu Government as all Government Departments will be encouraged to seek legal opinions in regards to their own remuneration packages.
The DoF staff say given their professions, if the Government does not seek additional legal opinion to appeal the Court ruling for it’s legal officers remuneration packages, then the Government should immediate release the whole Public Service Remuneration and have its employees enjoy the benefits as to date the whole Public Service remains unremunerated.
The DOF also point out that the whole Public Service payroll must be backdated to the 1st of October 2016 to ensure there is consistency across all Public Service.
The petition by DoF Staff was put forward in a manner to allow the Public Service to be fair and transparent with salaries and benefits.
The message to the Vanuatu Government however is clear and translates “If you remunerate one public servant, then you must remunerate all public servants”
If the Vanuatu Public Service was ever to face a crisis, then this is the beginning of the biggest as this one court judgment will undoubtedly ignite more court cases on remuneration packages for the whole Public Sector and this is one thing the Vanuatu Government has never prepared itself for.
The Government has been given until 24 August to respond.