The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) today expressed strong doubt that its case for the reinstatement of its President Akanni McDowall to an acting senior position in the Ministry of Health would be fairly handled by the Public Service Commission (PSC).
In a statement released this evening, the union took issue with comments made by Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins who last Thursday denied that the Public Administration Division (PAD) had victimized McDowall, or that there were ulterior motives for removing the trade union leader from the post of Health Planning Officer, in which he recently acted.
Atkins made it clear in the statement released by the Barbados Government Information Service that the PAD had no record of McDowall ever holding the position.
The NUPW said it was surprised that the Chief Personnel Officer made a public statement on the matter before it was discussed by the PSC.
The union explained it had only received a letter from the PAD on November 8, advising that its concerns were being “prepared for the attention of the Public Service Commission.
“This is the second occasion this week that senior officers in the public service publicly divulged personal information pertaining to Mr McDowall. Prior to the Chief Personnel Officer’s public disclosure, another senior public servant called the ‘Down to Brass Tacks’ [radio programme] and did the same.”
The NUPW argued this was out of order, pointing to the Public Service Act, 2007 – 41, Second Schedule 10 (1) which states that, ‘Officers shall not, without authority, disclose official information that has been communicated in confidence within the Ministry or Department, or received in confidence from others’.
The union also said it had been told by the PAD, that “it cannot divulge employees’ information, even to their representative without their permission”.
The NUPW not only questioned whether the two officers had sought McDowall’s permission, but asked “how confident can the union be that fair and unbiased representation will be made on our behalf?”
The union, which has already embarked on a go slow, involving customs and immigration workers, is threatening to disrupt the upcoming visit of Britain’s Prince Harry for Barbados’ 50 anniversary of Independence, if Government fails to reinstate McDowall.