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Can Hippos Dance Elegantly? Presentation on public service employment

October 30th, 2013

Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen

In the run-up to the 3rd Biennial Labour Relations Conference for the public service, I needed to describe the core issue – creating an environment for innovative and “transformative” bargaining.

Elegant Dancing Hippos

My younger son loves watching “My Animal Family” and started laughing, when the narrator said “Even a Hippo can dance elegantly in water”. Later he would turn it into a riddle. “How does a hippo dance nicely”, he asked. The answer is you guessed it, in water – in an environment suited to its size. My older son, just says the unions must protest!

I had found my theme for the presentation.

Big Hippos = Big Government and Big Unions

Big powerful hippos – big unions and big government -cannot dance together  in the current environment. Discussing a long-term strategy for public service transformation would foster such an environment conducive to the size and power of the parties.  

(Really happy to be ditching, “when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers”.)

The presentation raises difficult questions, including:

  •  The  appropriate share for salaries in relation to the total budget,
  • The need to introduce a Grade Zero, to improve services and increase employment, and
  • Productivity improvements in the public service.

The presentation may take a second or two to load. If it does not load, you can view it online. (click here)

Other Conference Presentations

My thanks to the Public Service Commission and the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council for the invitation to speak. Other presentations from the conference are available online. (click here) Worth a look, as the detail in most presentations allow offer insights into potential intervention areas.

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