STATEMENT BY DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
MR. DAVID D. ARCHER JR.
ON ALLEGED STRIKE BY CUSTOMS OFFICERS
Earlier today, I was invited to a meeting by the Financial Secretary to meet with members of His Majesty’s Customs Department and the members of the Customs Welfare Association, the Honourable Premier and representatives from the Ministry of Finance were present. The Association made it clear that their goal was to discuss their purpose, address matters impacting Customs Officers and to ascertain a detailed update on outstanding increment payments. They further shared that they did not plan to strike as a result of increments not being paid but wanted to get an update and offer their support in the processing of increments.
A bountiful discussion on the importance of Customs Officers to matters of national security and economic stability culminated in solutions to address a number of organisational matters outside of increment payments. As such, I would like to unequivocally dispel any rumors of Customs Officers striking as a result of increments not being paid.
To date, 1420 of 2261 eligible public officers have been paid their outstanding performance year increments, with arrears, for 2018 and 2019. It is important to note that the processing of increments for eligible customs officers has begun with over 40% of eligible customs officers paid. Following my circular shared on Friday, 14th July, we have now received 98% of the needed documentation to begin processing increment payments for the balance of customs officers. While initial payments were made to officers with no changes to their employment during those years, the remaining payments require a more complex calculation per officer and thus requires more time.
Regarding the overall public service, we have processed an additional increment payroll for this month on 18th July. The Ministry of Finance has assured that officers who were paid increments during this payroll should expect to see funds by tomorrow. This is due to processing time required by the banks to complete the transaction.
Additionally, Payroll officers are working overtime to ensure all outstanding increment payments for 2018 and 2019 continue to be paid as soon as possible provided that all outstanding increment reports and letters are submitted by Heads of Departments by Wednesday, 19th July. I have seen good progress following my last circular.
The public should be aware that we understand the importance of government services and the impact created by closures, through industrial actions. All efforts will be extended to address any concerns made by officers which could impact the delivery of government services.
We thank public officers for their continued hard work and dedication to the Public Service and for being a part of the process to ensure each eligible public officer’s increment is paid.