Mon | Oct 19, 2020

Hush-hush backlash - Fired Petrojam GM blasts Ramharrack gag; open to talks on contract row with Gov’t

Published:Thursday | February 7, 2019 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Staff Reporter

A former general manager of the scandal-scarred Petrojam has asserted that non-disclosure agreements (NDA) have no place in the employment arrangement for public-sector employees.

Further, Howard Mollison has signalled that he would be willing to hold talks with the management of the state-owned oil refinery to settle his long-running contractual dispute but is adamant that he will not make the first move.

“Absolutely not!” Mollison told The Gleaner yesterday.

His stance came a day after Prime Minister Andrew Holness revealed that Petrojam and its former human resource manager, Yolande Ramharrack, agreed on a $9.2-million separation agreement that included a non-disclosure clause.

Noting that Petrojam is owned by the Jamaican people, Mollison argued that there should be no privacy in the treatment of taxpayers’ resources.

“The prime minister’s compensation arrangements are public, much less some not-so-high-level employee in a government agency,” Mollison asserted.

Holness, who was speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, also extended an olive branch to former Petrojam employees who have gone to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) to resolve issues surrounding termination of employment.

“If, at any time, any of the parties that have been aggrieved and are now involved in a legal process or arbitration decide that they would come back for a settlement, the board has been given the general policy direction that these matters should be settled,” he said then.

However, the prime minister said that the ball was in the employees’ court to make the first move.

But Mollison made it clear that he had “no intention of availing myself of that”.

The former Petrojam general manager was fired with immediate effect in October 2016, almost a year before his two-year contract expired. He has since filed a complaint with the IDT, challenging the decision to end his contract prematurely.

For Mollison, the onus is now on the management of Petrojam to “do the right thing” and ensure that the issue is resolved.