From the Courts
June 27, 2017
PSU takes PSC to court over unfair promotions

The Public Service Union (PSU) has taken the Public Service Commission (PSC) to court, over what they consider to be unfair promotions within the public service.

During a press briefing last Tuesday at the PSU’s headquarters, president Elroy Boucher said the legal proceedings were filled in the court on January 17, 2017.

He explained that legal action brought against the PSC is based on four points: (1) The PSC’s failure to observe the principles of fairness, transparency and objectivity under regulation 19 of the Public Service regulations, (2) Failure to comply with regulations 15, 19 and 20 of part two of the Public Service regulations of CAP 10 of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines revised edition 2009, (3) The unreasonable delays and inconsistencies in the promotion process which were unlawful and (4) The implementation and establishment of efficient, transparent and effective performance appraisal and promotion regime in accordance with part two of the regulations.

Boucher explained that over the years, there have been numerous complaints from public officers in relation to unfair promotions. “Persons have felt that they have been overlooked and they could not understand the reasons why they have been overlooked.”

This, he said has created conflict among public officers and caused low morale.

Boucher also stated that unfair promotions also affect productivity within the public service.

“We would have written to Service Commissions on numerous occasions as a union, would have asked for the seniority list and would have questioned several decisions that they would have made, as it regards certain public officers,” the PSU president said.

He said as far as they are aware, there is no seniority list.

Giving an example, Boucher said within the Immigration Department, each time the post of assistant chief became vacant, it was filled by somebody from outside of the department, who, he said, sometimes had “very little or no experience.”

The PSU president noted that the position of assistant chief was filled in 2010 by Hermisteen Burke, who moved from the education sector to the Immigraton Department. Boucher also pointed out that Burke is the wife of Tyrone Burke, former chief personnel officer.

He also stated that the post had not been advertised. Additionally, the PSU president said that when the post became vacant recently, it was filled by someone who came to the department under the Supportve Education and Training (SET) programme.

Boucher added; “Officers who have had years upon years of experience, who would have done numerous workshops in border security and immigration related training, they were never given an opportunity. It means that within that particular department, you cannot have movement from immigration three to senior, unless the seniors retire, because there is no upward movement from senior to assistant chief.”

Boucher questioned what criteria is used by the PSC when granting promotions and appointments and stated that on May 17, 2017, the PSC sought to have the matter thrown out of court, but on May 31, 2017, the judge ruled in the favour of the PSU.

“The judge ruled in favour of the PSU and declared that the court indeed has jurisdiction to hear the claim. And the PSC’s application is dismissed. Cost was also awarded. It means that the case would move forward,” he said.

Boucher stated that the PSU has a strong case, with eight signed affidavits in support of their claim.

He, however, pointed out that there are some persons who are still fearful of coming forward and sharing their experiences.

“I want to applaud those persons who have made the effort and taken that decision to step forward and sign affidavits, in an effort to get the Service Commissions to operate according to the regulations. That is extremely important. All public officers should be treated equally, should be treated fairly. All!”

Boucher said that it will be “quite difficult” for the PSC to put up a defence.