The man at the centre of the latest industrial relations row between the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Freundel Stuart administration is not qualified for the position in which he was acting before he was sent back to his substantive post, Barbados TODAY was told.
An official source today revealed that NUPW President Akanni McDowall’s credentials fell short of what is required for the post.
Although it has suspended planned industrial action after meeting today with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) at the Public Administration Department’s Culloden Road, St Michael office, the union has threatened to turn up the heat on the administration in an effort to force a reversal of the decision.
General Secretary Roslyn Smith would not reveal the rationale put forward by the CPO for McDowall’s reversion to his substantive entry-level position of environmental assistant.
However, the source told Barbados TODAY the issue was one of proper qualification.
According to the source, who is close to the discussions, the post of Health Officer 1 requires someone with a postgraduate degree in economics, health planning or a related discipline, and not less than one year’s relevant experience. Otherwise, the holder of the post must have a degree in economics, health planning or a related discipline, and no less than two years’ relevant experience.
McDowall, the official said, possesses a master’s degree in public health, but none of the stipulated requirements.
The NUPW president confirmed to Barbados TODAY that he held a postgraduate degree in public health. However, while protesting that some of the information provided by the source was incorrect, he declined to provide details, arguing it would pervert the talks which began today.
“I cannot comment on this matter as it is now before the Public Service Commission. However, there are aspects of the account which are not true, but I will not go into which aspects as this will compromise the process,” McDowall said.
In a statement released late yesterday evening announcing the meeting between the CPO and the union, the Barbados Government Information Service said McDowall had only acted in the senior position from June 8 through to October 16 this year. This information was confirmed by the source.
Other sources also told Barbados TODAY all officers in McDowall’s department have the same qualification as him, therefore, an equivalency measuring stick had to be devised to find a suitable candidate.
The two sides met for close to two hours today, and Smith later told journalists the union had made its position clear to the CPO, who is expected to relay the message to Public Service Commission.
“We put our position to the CPO and we have asked her to take that back to the Public Service Commission, hopefully by Monday, and we would await the response to our position. I am confident enough that errors were made and they have to be corrected. So going forward we would continue to engage our membership pending the outcome next week,” Smith said.
The NUPW has stated in recent days that it would settle for no less that a reversal of the decision to revert McDowall to his substantive post and the subsequent appointment of someone it described as a junior officer, to the position.
Still holding the threat of a possible strike over Government’s head, the general secretary made it clear the union was not prepared to wait forever for a response to its demands.
In fact, the veteran trade unionist said the NUPW was ready to take action from as early as Tuesday, if a favourable reply was not forthcoming.
“We continue to meet with our members and if the response is not what we are anticipating then we will continue with our action. We are strategizing as we go ahead,” Smith stressed.