Documentation for court case would have taken a long time to put together – PSC Chairman
WHILE THE Public Service Commission (PSC) could have presented a lot more documentation in its case against the Public Service Union (PSU), the kind of documentation needed would have taken some time to acquire.
That is the view of PSC chairman, Cecil ‘Blazer’ Williams.
When SEARCHLIGHT spoke with Williams, he said that he had not yet finished reading the judgment delivered by Justice Esco Henry on December 19, 2018, which declared that the Commission failed to comply with the Regulations in respect of the promotion of the five officers.
And he declined to comment on the matter specifically with regard to the PSC’s effectiveness in presenting its case in court.
“I wouldn’t want to comment except to say that there’s a lot of documentation that could have been presented, a lot more documentation. The kind of documentation would have taken a long, long time to put together,” he said.
The Union’s case against the PSC sought to question the commission’s fairness, transparency and objectivity when it came to making decisions on the promotion of some public service officers.
It claimed that the PSC failed to adhere to specific regulations for the promotion of public servants. These regulations were 8, 19, 20, and 27; where 18 deals with the advertisement of vacancies in the service, 19 addresses the principles of selection for promotion, 20 refers to maintaining an up-to-date seniority list and 27 makes provisions for permanent secretaries and heads of departments to submit yearly confidential reports on officers within respective ministries.
Five public servants: Agnes Llewellyn, Kejo Peters, Joel Poyer, Conroy Daniel and Elroy Boucher, who is also the president of the Union, testified on behalf of the PSU, sharing their experiences of being overlooked for promotions throughout their tenure in the civil
service while in some cases, other less qualified officers were promoted.
The judgment, which was published on eccourts. org, said that the PSC in its defence, failed to provide crucial documentation of the case in the form of annual reports on public servants and the seniority list.
It highlighted that the PSC was ordered to disclose annual reports for the five named officers in the matter but it did not.
Poyer, who works in the Forestry Department, testified that he received no evaluation or assessment since 1998. Daniel, who works in the Prisons also indicated that he has never been assessed or evaluated.
After hearing from the permanent secretary of Agriculture, Raymond Ryan and prison superintendent, Brenton Charles, Justice Henry, in her judgment, ruled that the breach of regulation in these cases were “deliberate and intentional”.
It was declared that the PSC failed to observe principles of fairness, transparency and objectivity in exercising its functions under Regulation 19 with regard to promotions for which Llewellyn, Boucher, Poyer, Peters and Daniel were eligible.
The PSC was ordered to “establish and implement forthwith and maintain an efficient, transparent and effective performance appraisal and promotion regime within the public service (including a robust and functional monitoring and corrective mechanisms) in accordance with the stipulations in Regulations 18, 19, 20 and 27 of the Public Service Regulations”.
Costs were also awarded to the PSU, where the Commission is to pay the costs incurred by the Union in pursuing the case. This cost is to be assessed and an application is to be filed and served on or before January 31.
Given the outcome of this matter, Wendy Bynoe, the president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) said that the union intends to seek a judicial review
for the process in which teachers are promoted.
At a joint press conference with the PSU on Tuesday, she said that this has also been an issue for the members of her union as many have applied for positions on numerous occasion and have been overlooked.
And PSU president, Elroy Boucher, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Monday said that his union intends to bring further legal action against the PSC. He also said at the press conference that he cannot see any case going to court against the PSC with regard to unfair promotion and being unsuccessful.
“I have no problem at all. That’s their choice,” Williams said in relation to the teachers’ union’s intent to seek judicial review. “I think that they are free to do that and this obviously must be an encouragement for them to do it that judgment – so I think that they are free to do what they are thinking is in the best interest of their members.”
However, Williams said that although he has not read the judgement in its entirety, his understanding is that the judgment given basically covers the entire public service, which means that it would be inclusive of the teachers as well.