The National Union of Public Workers has written to the Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins asking that union president Akanni McDowall be reinstated to the post of Health Planning Officer 1, in which he had recently acted.
The union met with Atkins on November 3 to discuss the matter, following threats of protest action by the union.
Last month McDowall was removed from the senior position and returning to his substantive post of Environmental Health Assistant 1.
But in a statement issued earlier this week, Atkins denied that the Public Administration Department (PAD) had victimized McDowall, or that there were ulterior motives for removing him from the acting position.
The Chief Personnel Officer said that after the Public Service Commission accepted the recommendation for McDowall to act in the post, the Ministry of Health advised that it had requested an officer with a background in economics and not public health. McDowall therefore had to be replaced.
However, in a letter to Atkins, dated November 4, 2016 and obtained by Barbados TODAY, the NUPW’s acting deputy general secretary Delcia Burke pointed to the Civil Establishment (Qualifications) Order 2001 requirements for the post of Health Planning Officer I as:
“(a) A postgraduate qualification in Economics, in Health Planning or in a related discipline. No less than one year’s relevant experience is required; or (b) a degree in Economics, in Health Planning or in a related discipline and not less than two years’ relevant experience.”
The qualification requirement for Health Planning Officer II is “A degree in Economics, in Health Planning or in a related discipline.”
The letter charged that the Ministry of Health “has no authority to make recommendations based on preferences and the Personnel Administration Division has no authority to accept these recommendations”.
Burke quoted the Service Commission (Public Services) Regulations 1978 Section 13 (2) which states that ‘Where an acting appointment is to be made otherwise than as a prelude to a substantive appointment, the officer shall as a general rule be the senior officer in the Ministry or Department eligible for such acting appointment.’
She further pointed out that “by your own admission” the current holder of the post does not possess a degree in Economics, and that the union is aware that the officer who replaced McDowall in the post of Health Planner is junior to McDowall.
The PAD earlier stated that McDowall’s qualifications of a Master in Public Health do not meet the qualification requirements for the post of Health Planner.
However the union disagreed.
“Having read the course outline for Mr McDowall’s area of study and having taken into account the two years he spent performing the role of Health Promotion Officer, the NUPW is convinced that he is equipped to function as Health Planning Officer 1,” the letter said.