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'Leave me alone!' - former PICA head

Published:Tuesday | September 6, 2016 | 12:00 AMAndre Poyser

The non-renewal of contract for former CEO of the Passport Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) Jennifer McDonald has been met with strong opposition from the Jamaica Civil Society Association (JCSA), but McDonald seems not to be interested in the attention being paid to her.

When The Gleaner told McDonald that the JCSA views her termination as unjustifiable she said, "If that is their view, that is their view, I have nothing to say. I am a private citizen and I wish to be left alone."

The association's president, Oneil Grant, has said his investigations into the circumstances surrounding the non-renewal of contract has led him to conclude that McDonald was unjustifiably terminated as no reason was given for her termination.




"When a contract is not renewed, the Government should not only stipulate the reasons for the non-renewal in the letter of non-renewal, but it must also be able to establish the reason it has given with cogent evidence. This did not happen with Jennifer McDonald," he said.

Grant further argued that to his best knowledge, McDonald had no intention of leaving her job and had every expectation that her contract would be renewed given her stellar performance as head of the agency.

"What motivated the Government to end her contract? Did she have a legitimate expectation that because she performed, that her contract would have been renewed? Why was there no notice?" he asked.

The Gleaner could not, however, confirm if the PICA boss had expressed an interest in retaining her post as she declined to comment extensively and noted that she was not aware that the JCSA had made public comments on the matter.

Grant disclosed that he has not spoken to McDonald, but gleaned information about her termination from reliable sources at PICA. He further pointed out that her termination was rushed and has been shrouded in secrecy.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Diane McIntosh was unavailable to respond to calls from The Gleaner.

The JCSA president has used McDonald's termination to decry what he has described as the use of contract employment as a weapon to circumvent the industrial-relations process in the public sector.

"In my opinion, the Government cannot circumvent the provisions of the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act simply by placing their employees on a fixed-term contract of employment and choosing to not renew it when the contract comes to an end. In order for the Courts to uphold it as a genuine fixed- term contract, the employer, in this case the Government, must first prove that there was a genuine reason for the contract to be for a fixed period," he said.