Five education officers bring lawsuit against Govt
Five education officers are suing the Government following a job evaluation and regrading exercise by the Ministry of the Civil Service that occurred about 10 years ago and which has affected their pay.
They include Senior Education Officer Vaneisha Cadogan and education officers Pamela Hunte, Peggy Agard, Pauline Millar and Celeste Clarke-Cox.
Attorney-at-law Gregory Nicholls, who is acting on behalf of the aggrieved Government workers, has applied for judicial review of the process which led the Ministry of the Civil Service to regrade the post of senior education officer, putting it on par with that of a primary school principal, while the position of education officer was pushed downwards to rank below that of principal primary.
Nicholls also wants a declaration from the court that the process, which led to the regrade, amounts to “constructive demotion” and is “unreasonable, void and is of no legal effect”.
The attorney is also seeking damages in the form of legals costs, as well as any further order the court deems fit.
The matter, which was filed in the Supreme Court on December 8, came up before Justice Olson Alleyne today with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service listed as first defendant, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation as second defendant and the Attorney-General as third defendant.
The officers are contending that they are required to supervise all principals in both primary and secondary schools, and to monitor and appraise the management of schools as part of their roles, functions and responsibilities.
However, they have brought the action in response to the “failure and/or refusal of the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation to implement in a fair and equitable manner, the proposals of the Ministry of the Civil Service with respect to the payment of pensionable allowances to senior education officers and education officers who have established that they had made a career choice to accept an appointment on promotion to that post under the previous grading/salary structure in the public service.”
The claim document, a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY, states that “the claimants were at all material times appointed on promotion from their substantive posts in the Public Service to the post of education officer which was graded as a post equal to that of principal, public primary shool in the Public Service.”
It also pointed out that as a result of the regrading, which followed a job evaluation, “they [education officers] have been constructively demoted in the structure of the Public Service and that this has served to diminish the status of their roles within the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation and has also severely impacted their ability to discharge their duties as senior education officer and education officers in pursuance of the provisions of the Education Act, CAP.41 of the Laws of Barbados”.
They further charge that “the pensionable allowances, which the Ministry of the Civil Service devised to be paid to education officers, were only given to two officers, even though they [the five claimants] met the requirement of showing they made a career choice based on the old grading to accept the promotions”.
In all, the officers have listed five grounds for judicial review, including that the Ministry of the Civil Service acted unreasonably and in conflict with the policy of the Education Act.
The Ministry of Education is also accused of acting unreasonably, irregularly and improperly or in breach of the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness and of failing to implement the policy of paying pensionable allowances to qualified education officers in a fair and even-handed manner.
The hearing has been adjourned until February 13 next year.
Nicholls is being assisted in this matter by Marcia Thompson-Cumberbacth, while the Crown Counsel appeared for the Attorney-General’s Chambers.