BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- A phased approach to the regularization of STEP workers into the public service as Government Auxiliary Workers (GAEs) was discussed on October 13 by Chairman of the Skills Empowerment Training Programme (STEP) Regularization and Pensions Reform Committee, Levi Bradshaw.
“The regularization of the STEP workers would be undertaken on a phased basis commencing with those workers who are assigned to ministries and departments followed by those assigned to the Parks and Beaches,” said Mr. Bradshaw. “I am pleased to report that the STEP workers would enter the public service as Government Auxiliary Employees with an effective date of employment being the first day of July 2020 as mandated.”
Mr. Bradshaw said that there are tremendous benefits that would be accrued to persons who transitioned into the government service from the STEP Programme.
“These persons firstly would be eligible for appointment into the public service under the Government Auxiliary Employment Act,” said Bradshaw. “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.
“The employees would also be eligible for several other benefits including enrollment in the government’s health insurance scheme and in the government’s contributory pension plan, as well as the Long Service Gratuity which is paid to workers who would have demitted office at age 62. When transitioned into government, the employees would be eligible to receive a lump-sum payment of life insurance which would be paid to their estate or beneficiaries upon their passing.”
During the coming weeks, STEP workers will be sensitized on the regularization and transition process of the sector.
Bradshaw, who is also the Accountant General within the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, said that the relevant stakeholders are currently in the process of carrying out an exercise to authenticate and verify the accuracy of the records of the STEP employees who are to be assigned to various ministries. This, he said, is being done to ensure due diligence in the regularization process.
“The committee has made several recommendations,” said Bradshaw. “As part of the process we have recommended that an employee performance evaluation must be conducted for each STEP worker to assess his or her quality of work, job knowledge, productivity, communication and interpersonal skills, adaptability initiatives, dependability, service orientation, attitude and behaviour and planning and organization. The physical verification of STEP workers is geared towards the elimination of any possibility for the regularization and transition into the public sector of any ghost workers.”
Just over 3,000 persons are employed on the STEP. According to Bradshaw, currently, approximately, 1,123 employees are assigned across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis with approximately 1,680 attached to the public sector. One hundred and eighty-nine persons are attached to the public sector and an additional 170 assigned to the private sector in Nevis.