Sun | Mar 7, 2021

Why JUTC worker’s pay jumped 600% in 13 months - More unqualified managers flagged in audit

More unqualified managers flagged in audit

Published:Wednesday | January 20, 2021 | 12:18 AMEdmond Campbell/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

A Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) worker whose salary skyrocketed by 304 per cent on an initial promotion after two months on the job, and ultimately 583 per cent on a second elevation within 13 months, has been described by the management of the entity as dedicated and committed.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament placed under its microscope on Tuesday glaring human-resource policy breaches when it questioned how a stores clerk receiving a salary of $568,256 could be promoted twice in little more than a year, moving his take-home pay to $3.9 million.

In her July 2019 performance audit report of the JUTC, Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis said the officer did not meet the minimum qualification in relation to his job description. Further, the position was not advertised.

Monroe Ellis also noted that the worker was awarded a salary hike of nearly 600 per cent despite receiving unsatisfactory performance evaluation from the company.

Responding to questions from members of the PAC, Paul Abrahams, managing director at the state-owned bus company, said the position became vacant and the individual applied for the job.

NO EXPLANATION

He said the former stores clerk “moved up the ladder based on his knowledge, dedication, and commitment” to the job.

“So it is a matter of him moving up the ladder, which appears to be very fast,” Abrahams added.

However, when asked how the worker could have been promoted despite obtaining an unsatisfactory evaluation, Abrahams said: “There is not much that can be explained for that kind of situation. We have to ensure that this does not happen again.”

Committee Chairman Julian Robinson said the salary hike was significant, noting that the worker “seems to be a very special person”.

“We acknowledge instances like that and we have moved to ensure that those issues do not come back to haunt the JUTC,” Abrahams said.

Questions were also raised about a worker who was promoted from depot operations manager to general manager without any evidence of qualification or the job being advertised.

With the promotion, the worker’s salary rose 64 per cent from $3,386,421 to $5,538,476.39.

Abrahams said that the staffer had some 20 years’ experience in a public transport company and was managing director for a trucking company for more than 13 years.

DISCREPANCY NOT FLAGGED

Human resources manager at the JUTC, Elaine Hall, divulged that that there were more senior managers at the company who did not qualify for their positions, but this was not flagged in the auditor general’s report.

The auditor general had found that six senior managers did not have the minimum qualification for the positions they held.

Hall told the PAC that the JUTC had done another audit of the entire management team and found five other managers who do not satisfy the minimum requirements for the positions they held.

The HR manager said that the board had mandated that all managers who do not meet the hiring criteria must take steps to achieve the requisite qualifications.

She said a deadline of December 2020 was given for the designated managers to start the process to get qualified. However, she said that some managers faced financial challenges and were given an extension up to March 2021.

In her July 2020 report, the auditor general stated that the JUTC failed to advertise vacant positions and engaged staff in unapproved positions or without the minimum qualifications - in breach of its HR policy and procurement guidelines.

From a sample of 21 senior managers recruited, the auditor general found no evidence that the JUTC advertised for nine of the positions. In addition, eight of the officers engaged were not interviewed for the job.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com