Minister: ‘Civil servants do a great job’
A cabinet minister has distanced himself from comments made by a government MP that civil servants think they are in charge of ministers.
The remarks by Derrick Burgess, Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, provoked a union backlash after he claimed some public servants had behaved in a “threatening” manner.
Asked about the comments, the transport minister Wayne Furbert said: “Civil servants do a great job.”
Mr Burgess sparked controversy with an intervention in the House of Assembly in which he accused some civil servants of “making up policy as they go” and believing they are “above the ministry or Government”.
Using the example of the experience of a businesswoman, in reference to civil servants, Mr Burgess said in the House of Assembly: “We have some that think they are in charge – even of the minister.”
He said a businesswoman he had been in contact with was being “penalised” by civil servants.
Mr Burgess, a former Cabinet minister and president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, said: “They went as a far as to put it in writing, threatening this lady, if she didn’t pay these funds by today, they will hold up her shipment. Putting her livelihood at risk.
“They didn’t care, but they put it in writing – civil servants. This is not right – we should not be threatening our people.”
The Bermuda Public Services Union branded the remarks as “disturbing”.
A BPSU statement said: “As the union representing a significant number of public officers, it was disturbing to the Bermuda Public Services Union to learn that on February 3, 2023, a current government MP took to the floor of the House of Assembly to accuse government employees of engaging in ‘threatening’ and ‘shameful’ behaviour, and ‘making policies as they go’.”
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