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Clerk of the House of Assembly, Deborah Charles in Parliament on  July 13, 2023, during the debate over her appointment.
Clerk of the House of Assembly, Deborah Charles in Parliament on July 13, 2023, during the debate over her appointment.
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The Public Service Union has joined in expressing concern about the appointment of former senator and candidate for the Unity Labour Party, Deborah Charles as Clerk of the House of the Assembly.

Charles was appointed to the post despite the fact that the Constitution says that the post should be filled by a public servant.

Charles, who had been a teacher, is said to have resigned from the public service before contesting the 2015 general elections.

She was appointed a senator and parliamentary secretary between 2015 and 2020 and it is not clear if she rejoined the public service thereafter.

In a press statement on Wednesday, the PSU said it would like to note its “displeasure with the manner in which Mrs. Deborah Charles was appointed to the position of Clerk of the House. 

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“The Clerk of the House of Assembly is a public officer, and the position falls under the purview Public Service Commission,” Lanique Findlay-Providence, who is 2nd vice-president and public relations officer of the PSU said in the statement.

“Therefore, the appointment of the Clerk must be done in accordance with the Public Service Regulations, the Regulations which governs the general management of public officers including appointments in the Public Service.”

Findlay-Providence said her union had seen “no evidence that the position was advertised as prescribed by Regulations 18 (1) and (2). Further, the PSU is of the view that the selection process is in violation of the requirements of Regulation 19 of the said Regulations.”

The union noted that in 2017 it successfully challenged the Public Service Commission’s “unfair promotion practice.

“The court ruled that the Public Service Commission failed to comply with Regulations 18, 19, 20 and 27, which lay out the procedure for Appointments, Promotions and Transfers.

“Given that the post was not advertised and the principles of selection were not adhered to, the appointment of Deborah Charles is another reminder of the Public Service Commission’s disregard for, and blatant violation of the Public Service Regulations.”

The union noted that in her ruling on the 2017 case, Justice Esco Henry stated, “Promotion provides a positive incentive and stimulus to all employees to aspire to greater heights in his chosen field. When it fails to materialise it leads to apathy, frustration, demotivation, dissatisfaction, low morale and dysfunctionalysm”.

The judge went on to say that “it would be unreasonable, in the absence of reasons for those bypassed for promotion to conclude promotion is based not on merit but on some other factor,” the union noted.

Findlay-Providence said:

“It is clear to us that the Public Service Commission has failed to have an appreciation of the decision of the court and or perhaps even care to comply with the order of the court, which specifically stated that ALL vacancies must be advertised.

“The Public Service Union is therefore calling on the Public Service Commission to revoke the appointment and comply with the Public Service Regulations.”

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday announced to Parliament last week that he had written to the chair of the PSC in relation to Charles’ appointment.

Friday noted that the Clerk of the House is a public office and expressed concern about how Charles would function in the role, in light of her recent pass as a senator and candidate for the ruling Unity Labour Party.