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Devon Dick | Holness's human resources problems

Published:Wednesday | March 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holness's human resources problems were highlighted in the appointment of justice Brian Sykes first as acting chief Justice and then, about a month later, as chief justice. According to the prime minister, the appointment would be based on performance. No doubt, the prime minister wanted a rigorous examination similar to what happens in the USA. But that should have taken place before the acting appointment. (Whether it is constitutional is another matter for the court.) Furthermore, no time frame was given to the acting chief justice, and every employee should know from the outset what the length of the probation is. In addition, the targets should be specific, measurable, and known. Furthermore, when one is on probation, one ought to know who is one's supervisor or boss. The prime minister is not the supervisor of the chief justice, and it would be unacceptable for an acting chief justice to agree to such terms and unjust to the acting chief justice.

The prime minister faced human resources problems when as opposition leader, he asked senators to sign undated resignation letters. That was unacceptable and unjust. Furthermore, the court ruled it unconstitutional. Holness then publicly apologised at a worship service at the Boulevard Baptist Church, and a year later, he was elected as PM. He should follow that formula and apologise for such unacceptable terms to the position of chief justice.

The prime minister has the responsibility, as head of the government, to set the tone for proper human resources policies and practices. The mishandling of the appointment of the chief justice triggered other human resources problems. So, for example, 97 judges met and issued a reasoned and reasonable statement. However, from a human resource standpoint, it seems that it would have been better had they reported the concerns to a Judicial Services Commission or the governor general or the prime minister before issuing a statement to the public. We are compounding our industrial relations climate.


Reset gauge


An apology from the prime minister would reset the industrial relations gauge in this country. Senior judges would not put resident magistrates or parish judges on indefinite probation either, but make fulsome appointments based on performance. Too many managers and owners are making arbitrary decisions concerning hiring, firing, and terms of employment for employees. They establish unreasonable targets, and workers are stressed out and sick. Decisions are made, and persons are not aware of the bases. Take, for example, the former director of tourism, whose contract was not renewed. The minister of tourism praised the performance of the tourism sector in terms of increased arrivals, and, in October, the Government publicly honoured the former director of tourism with a national award. Why would he be relieved? Someone should say to the country that this new person is more qualified, more prepared, and has more integrity to execute the role of director of tourism. This new director of tourism must be pretty impressive, because the former one has an impressive resume in terms of expertise, experience, and performance. It is important to treat every worker fairly.

Additionally, there seems to be a human resource problem within CARICOM. Otis Gibson played for the West Indies and was a successful bowling coach for England's cricket team. Then, he was brought to the West Indies cricket team and was unceremoniously disengaged from his job.

Let us not forget that engaging in good human resource practices will create the right climate for productivity, harmony, and growth.