By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Tribune Chief Reporter
A SENIOR civil servant believes she is in the waning days of her public service career due to alleged victimisation, having spent the better part of the last several months “staring at the walls every day” without any tasks to carry out.
“I have no portfolio, no support staff and I have been doing absolutely nothing all day, every day,” the public officer claimed to this newspaper.
She was explaining the extent of what she views as victimisation at the hands of senior officials in the Davis administration.
“It is clear to me that I am being forced out,” she added.
The senior official asked not to be named for fear of reprisal and a rule that forbids those in the civil service from speaking publicly about internal matters.
The Tribune also decided to withhold certain elements of her experience to protect the woman’s identity.
Yesterday, she recalled her storied past throughout several administrations in the service, including a secondment, but insisted she was never politically affiliated.
“The thing is I didn’t even know that I was a political person and it’s amazing that I am being treated this way. I am not in politics. I don’t be up in politics. I don’t know political people or whatever.
“I did a lot of projects in the service, and nobody could say I was political with them. Those things never mattered to me. I never asked anybody who they voted for, and I didn’t single out people, so I don’t know where this came from,” she said.
Despite this, she claimed she was handed a letter announcing that she was placed on administrative leave.
The letter, she said, quoted General Orders as the basis for the leave.
“There was no reasoning for me being disciplined, no explanation,” she said.
A further explanation provided to her stated that while she maintained a stellar record, the decision to place her on leave would remain.
“It remains clear that I was forced out. I have been sitting in my little office. I have no portfolio; I have no support staff and I am doing absolutely nothing all day,” she said.
The official was not the only one to yesterday come forward with allegations of being treated unfairly by the government.
Another official, an island administrator who also asked not to be named, pointed to a lawsuit levelled at the government by the Bahamas Public Service Union, over claims of victimisation by the administrators who fall under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Public Service.
The matter was addressed in a letter sent to the ministry in January.
The communication was sent by Cedric L Parker & Co representing Arimentha Newman, Elizabeth Collie, Ernestine Fernander, Lauretta Marshall and Carletta Turnquest, members of the BPSU.
The permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Labour, the Office of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs were all copied on the letter.
It read: “Each of the captioned administrators received letters signed on your behalf, on or about the 29th day of November 2021, advising of their respective unsolicited, unexplained and unlawful purported redeployment from the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Family Island Affairs to various other government ministries with immediate effect.
“Your said letter was issued without any due process or proper notice whatsoever and in breach of the Public Service Commission Regulations, General Orders and the principles of natural justice.
“We hereby request that you rescind the said purported redeployments forthwith and take the necessary steps to facilitate the return of these duly appointed Family Island administrators to their substantive posts on an urgent basis.
“Should we not hear from you within seven days we shall proceed to secure the BPSU members’ interest without further notice,” the letter noted.
This was the case as one of the administrators confirmed yesterday that the matter will face the Supreme Court on November 1.
“All of us are career civil servants, all of us have several degrees and we were given the letters at the end of November to report to various government ministries and we were already serving in those capacities for two years. We got those positions as promotions. Prior to that we were already career civil servants,” the administrator said.
“The letters didn’t say much. Gave no explanation as to why we were being redeployed. During our consultation, neither of the five of us were ever reprimanded. So, there was no explanation. We weren’t called in or anything. We were just given the letters.
“What we didn’t understand was during the recruitment exercise for that post there were vacancies at the time. Several persons who applied to the public service had written to the Ministry of Local Government at the time saying they were not qualified for the post but the ones who they moved all of those had various degrees and the ones who were not qualified they kept.
“So, it was a lot of confusion. But we got no explanation. We took it to the union and the union president looked into it and was back and forth with them trying to get the matter resolved and after it didn’t get resolved he took the issue to the attorney.”
The officials gave their accounts the day after former Public Service Minister Brensil Rolle told the Davis administration to “deal fairly” with all public officers amid claims that some in the service were being victimised.
According to Mr Rolle, it was becoming common practice for some officers to be treated as “political operatives” when this should not be the case as they’ve served in consecutive governments in many instances.
His comments have been met with opposition and dismissed as untrue by government officials.
Yesterday, Foreign Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell said Mr Rolle ought to be ashamed to open his mouth, calling him “the victimiser in chief”.
He further directed this newspaper to his previous comments regarding the allegations.
“No one has been unlawfully, unfairly, or illegally displaced in the public service,” Mr Mitchell said Friday. “I also want to say that you cannot have a situation where public servants openly go around saying they will not and do not support the government of the day who openly defy a lawful order and put obstacles in the way of the administration, push will come to shove.
“The government must have its way and aren’t we a little sick and tired, in fact plenty sick and tired, of the FNM shedding crocodile tears for allegedly wronged civil servants?
“These are the same people who just a few years ago sent home big grown healthy police officers and a whole financial secretary for four years to count sheep.
“These FNM scallywags should go sit down and stop talking sugar honey iced tea. Cut it out.”
Mr Mitchell’s comments were sparked by a Free National Movement press release last week that accused the government of weaponising the Ministry of Public Service to go after career civil servants who have served across different administrations.
The party claimed the government’s conduct was destroying the bedrock of democracy.