Opposition senator Kay Bacchus-Baptiste is questioning the ability of the Public Service Commission (PSC) to obey the ruling handed down by the high court in the case brought against it by the Public Service Union (PSU).
In the ruling, the court ordered that they “establish and implement forthwith and maintain an efficient, transparent and effective performance appraisal and promotion regime within the public service”.
The court also ordered the PSC to observe the principles of fairness, transparency and objectivity in exercising its functions.
But Bacchus-Baptiste, speaking at a New Democratic Party press conference on Monday, questioned its ability to do this, in light of what she said was a failure to maintain seniority lists of public servants.
The PSU sued the PSC, challenging its failure to promote five public servants, each of whom have had decades of experience in the public service.
In her ruling, Justice Esco Henry noted that the PSC had not disclosed the seniority lists, although it claimed that they had been maintained, in keeping with its mandate.
“Who is going to put this list together? Those are the questions we have to ask. Can we trust this same commission to carry out this function when they knew, very familiar, with all that was to be done to do this? How can we trust and entrust so many of our civil servants to this same commission? How are they going to get their annual reports done when they were not done annually? Are they going to put together something? They are, to my mind, totally unable to carry out these functions.
“Sad to say, it looks as though we will have to start from the beginning again, appoint a new commission. Hopefully the NDP will be the government that will be doing that: appoint a proper Public Service Commission to run this country,” said Bacchus-Baptiste, who has been selected as the NDP’s candidate in West St. George in the next general elections — constitutionally due in March 2021.
Reading from the judgment, Bacchus-Baptiste noted that during cross-examination, chair of the PSC, Cecil “Blazer” Williams had acknowledged that public officers may be promoted across departments within the civil service.
He accepted that the PSC must therefore know which officers are the most senior within the service, if the promotion process is to work.
Williams further accepted that the PSC did not produce the seniority lists in accordance with regulation 19 and did not disclose them as ordered by the Court.
He also said he understood the duty of disclosure and that he is a lawyer of 20 years and understands how disclosure works.
“By his own admission, Mr. Williams has accepted that the PSC failed to comply with the court’s order for disclosure of the seniority lists,” the court ruled.
Bacchus-Baptiste said the opposition has a right to ask why the lists were not disclosed.
“Do they really have seniority lists? Why were they unable to disclose these seniority lists?”