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2004-12-13 16:45:39

Sit-Out At Registrar General’s Office

'There is too much political interference, there are too many persons in here with political appointments and who are not established civil servants.'

Over 30 employees of the Registrar General's Office on Shirley Street participated in a sit-out last Thursday morning in support of the register general, Elizabeth Thompson, who they believe is about to be fired.

But Minister with responsibility for the public service, Fred Mitchell, said last night that he was not aware of any plan to terminate Ms. Thompson.

President of The Bahamas Public Services Union John Pinder told reporters during a protest outside the department that he was informed that Ms. Thompson had received verbal communication from an official in the Ministry of Financial Services and Investments.

“Permanent Secretary Sheila Carey told Ms. Thompson that her contract was in question and it was not in question favourably as if a decision has been made to terminate her,' Mr. Pinder claimed. “So we [are] only trying to warn them and let them know that it's unfair.'

During the protest, employees sang and chanted on the steps of the office saying they were participating in a “work to rule' action.

Mr. Pinder, meanwhile, said, “If someone threatens your livelihood it puts you in a funny position and it frustrates you. The human resources person is also totally frustrated and she is not allowed to function the way she ought to.

There is too much political interference, there are too many persons in here with political appointments and who are not established civil servants.

He said the sit-out is just a warning of what would come if Ms. Thompson is terminated.

“The staff members will have to show with the help of the union that you either comply or we will make the necessary adjustments,' Mr. Pinder said. “There is a clause in the contract that states that the government could terminate her if they see fit, but Ms. Thompson is performing her duties and should remain at the department.'

Ms. Thompson has only worked in the capacity of registrar general for the past four months.

Dwanye Stevens, a computer operator at the office and union shop steward, told reporters that over 97 percent of the staff is in favour of Ms. Thompson and is rallying to support her.

“If you go into that building it is empty. All the staff walked out and only six remain behind in the office,' Mr. Stevens said.

He claimed that the atmosphere in the Registrar General's Office has become volatile because of the constant bickering of administrators in the department and the operations management team.

“There have been verbal arguments in the building with the registrar general taking one position and the operations management team taking another,' he claimed. “The staff is now upset. We are tired of management just pulling and hauling. We have been given a mandate to provide a service and that service has been interrupted by those who should lead us in executing that mandate.'

Mr. Pinder eventually told the employees to return to work after they demonstrated for about three hours.

Bianca Symonette, The Bahama Journal

 
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