Lack of cooperation prevents decisive conclusion on hiring practices at GECOM

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An investigation by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) could not come to a decisive conclusion that there was discrimination in hiring practices at GECOM since the top managers at GECOM did not fully cooperate with investigators.

“The unavailability of key personnel did not allow for extensive deliberations to arrive at a more informed conclusion,” investigators said in a report released today.

The investigation was launched after a complaint was filed Bibi Shaddick, Robeson Benn and Sase Gunraj – three Commissioners at GECOM.

On July 17, 2018, the ERC was asked by the GECOM Commissioners “to conduct an inquiry into the Employment practices at GECOM in general and the recent vote by Chairman of GECOM in favour of a second-ranked candidate in particular.”

The ERC today revealed that it did not have the full cooperation of key persons at GECOM including the Commission’s Chairman, Justice (ret’d) James Patterson, and the agency’s Human Resources Manager, Marcia Crawford.

The investigation was conducted by ret’d Justice of Appeal Stanley Moore, Human Resources Consultant Jairam Petam and ret’d Deputy Commissioner of Police Lloyd Smith. The representatives of the ERC were Major General (ret’d) Norman McLean and Norris Witter.

As it relates to the employment practices, ERC Commissioner Norris Witter told the media at a press conference that “there was no evidence presented by anyone to suggest that that allegation is true.”

The complainants he said, were asked to provide evidence to support their claims but failed to do so.

He explained that the hiring of junior staff is done by the HR Manager while managers are interviewed by two opposition and two Government Commissioners and then approved by the entire commission including the Chairman.

However, the ERC investigator was unable to peruse the records as it relates to non-managerial employees due to the absence of the HR Manager.

Mr Witter told the media that the Manager never turned up to meetings or submitted any written statements.

The ERC does not have the authority to issue a writ to compel testimony by a witness or production of evidence –something which the Commission would like to see addressed.

However, in its conclusion, the ERC said: “because of the way our population is distributed over the country, it is inevitable that in some areas where there is a preponderance of Guyanese of a given ethnicity there is likely to be a majority of employees in those areas of the majority ethnicity.”

It added that there are no institutional rules or practices in GECOM which allows for ethnic discrimination in hiring and the six Commissioners are vigilant that this does not occur.

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