Private sector’s attempt to direct GECOM on punitive measures against employees is unacceptable

Private sector’s attempt to direct GECOM on punitive measures against employees is unacceptable

Dear Editor,

The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) has noted the most inappropriate and unconstitutional action of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) that has assumed the role of Judge, Jury and Executioner when it pointedly advanced calls for the removal of select GECOM employees. In a statement carried in the Monday, December 21, 2020 edition of the printed press, the PSC seemingly passed judgement and selectively called for the removal of named GECOM officials and to whom it unilaterally attributed alleged irregularities associated with the just concluded 2020 General and Regional Elections. This type of posture should not go unchallenged.

Before proceeding, it is apparent that PSC must be reminded or it should be brought to its attention, whichever is appropriate, that GECOM, an independent constitutional body is not subject to its direction or control.

The GPSU has also noted the apparent silent acceptance of the Government, civil society and influential citizenry in what appears to be a “tail wagging the dog” situation. In a proclaimed democracy, the perpetration of such suggested illegalities would definitely beg the question as to whether there is independence within the arms of governance or whether certain politically aligned groups could determine the fates of persons perceived to belong to opposing political factions. This is not the practice of democracy; this is the practice of autocracy or more clearly dictatorship.

The Union has taken a keen interest in this matter due to its potential for unconstitutional action to be meted out to its members at GECOM, given that the said Union members, are also charged with the responsibility of ensuring the credibility and transparency of the

electoral process.

Consequently, the Union in the interest of free and fair elections, takes this opportunity to once again be pellucid in its support for the constitutional requirement of free and fair, and free from fear elections. Equally, the Union firmly supports citizens’ constitutional rights to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law, following the conclusion of due process. This is a fundamental pillar of our democratic society that seems to have evaded the PSC and other prejudiced or biased elements, who have since publicly associated themselves with the PSC demands. In this area was well-known labour specialist, Mr. Samuel J. Goolsarran, who was a member of the GPSU at the level of its General Council and schooled in natural justice and due process in the Public Service and regional and international institutions, but who seems to conveniently forget this training and expertise, when there is need to support chosen allies.

Article 144 (1) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana states that: –

“If any person is charged with a criminal offense, then, unless the charge is withdrawn, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.”

The Union is not aware that such responsibility has been vested in the PSC or any of its members.

Further, Article144. (2) (a) of  the Constitution of Guyana goes on to state that: –

“It shall be the duty of a court to ascertain the truth in every case provided that every person who is charged with a criminal offence –

(a) shall be presumed to be innocent until he or she is proven or has pleaded guilty”

Therefore, the PSC’s attempt to direct GECOM on what it deemed as appropriate  punitive measures to be meted out against GECOM employees are presumptuous, unacceptable and out of place.

Additionally, the Union is perplexed by the PSC’s deafening silence on the scourge of narcotic seizures and more recently the interception and seizure of a significant quantity of narcotics by European law enforcement officers, which should be of dire importance to the credibility and transparency of the private sector. These occurrences also remind us of the relentless efforts by some operatives within the private sector to lure public officials into corrupt practices, with minute successes.

The Union contends that the withdrawal of private criminal charges and the institution of criminal charges by the State is insufficient reason to justify the action of the PSC unless the said PSC has an ulterior motive in so doing. Repeatedly we have observed, since the change of Government, charges previously laid against several persons have done little to criminalize them in the eyes of the PSC, so why the double standards and undue haste to criminalize the GECOM employees? Indeed, what is the motive in trying to undermine the course of natural justice, if this is undeniably possible?

Yours faithfully,

Indira Thakurdin for

the Guyana Public Service Union

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