A dreadful thing has occurred. The personnel staff and the chief accountant of the Department of the Public Service have been ordered off the job, unlawfully and without being afforded due process.
Reports in the media indicate the workers in the personnel section of the Ministry and a senior accountant were escorted off of the premises last week. The government sought to deny these reports.
The Guyana Chronicle quoted a press officer within the Ministry of the Presidency saying that allegations were leveled against the officers but that they were not dismissed.
This clearly, however, was not so since a termination letter has since been made public. There has been no statement indicating that this letter is a fake. If it was a fake letter, then has there been no statement indicating that it was?
It is no use splitting hairs over the difference between dismissal and termination. The fact remains; that there has been an involuntary end of the services of these workers. And from all accounts it was done without due authority.
A grave injustice has been meted out to these workers. They have been denied due process. Their dismissal has been without cause and without even an opportunity to be heard. They were dismissed for God knows what reason, on either a hunch or because of suspicion of having done something.
The dismissal of the workers was high-handed. They were denied the right to a hearing, then escorted out of the office in which they have worked for many years.
The dismissals are illegal. There is a procedure in place for the termination of Government employees and that process has not been followed.
The government has acted cruelly, callously and cold-heartedly. It has placed workers on the breadline without just cause.
The treatment of the workers is case of heavy manners. There was reason for what has happened. You investigate and then dismiss, not the other way around.
Power is being exercised quite senselessly and without any semblance of justice against the powerless. Persons should not be sent dismissal letters summarily. If they did something wrong, then they should be told of it. An investigation should then be launched before any decision is taken for them to be dismissed.
That is what due process is about. The workers have been placed on the breadline. Tremulous times lie ahead for them. The dismissed workers have monthly expenses: electricity, water, telephone, internet, cable, and hire purchase.
These bills will continue to pile up and the workers have no income at the moment. Some of them have mortgages to pay and children to feed.
What is going to happen to them? What are they going to do? Why weren’t they sent on leave until such time as a hearing could be organized? Why dismissal?
These workers have rights. Whether a person is employed as a contract employee or directly the Public Service Commission, that person is entitled to due process. In fact, the contracts of the contracted employees within the public service specify that they are bound by public service rules.
There was a time when if something as ruthless as this happened within any public service department, the entire workforce, unionized or not, would have downed tools and refused to work until the dismissed workers were reemployed.
But people are afraid of being victimized. Some of them are living month-to-month. They too have bills to pay and they cannot afford to confront the oppressors and their cheerleaders on the outside. And so they know a wrong has been committed but they cannot stand by the side of their colleagues because they are afraid of losing their jobs.
They cannot take withhold their lab out because if they are victimized their children will suffer.
And in the face of these reports about the dismissal of the workers, our ‘caring’, considerate and emphatic society is screaming in silence.
Not a squeak has been heard from those who once trumpeted the cause of the disadvantaged and victimized. The defenders of the poor and powerless were on the sidelines acting as cheerleaders.
The workers are the victims of political intoxication. They are victims of political power being placed in the wrong hands. And the saddest part of all is that the proponents of people’s power are on the sidelines cheering and urging another purge.
There is a right way and wrong way to resolve this matter. The right way is for the workers to be allowed to return to work and to be served with notices of the allegations against them.
And only after a proper and impartial investigation and a determination of guilt should these persons be dismissed.
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