NUPW accuses Kellman of deception
The war of words over the appointment of a human resources manager at the National Housing Corporation (NHC) has taken a stunning twist with the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) accusing Minister of Housing Denis Kellman of deception.
The NUPW Friday issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the claims made by Kellman on Wednesday after approximately 30 NHC workers staged a brief work stoppage to protest the new hiring.
The union said at the time that the employees had felt aggrieved that Assistant Human Resources Officer Polla Blackman, who had acted in the position for a year – without pay, according to the NUPW – was being overlooked in favour of someone who the union said today was the wife of Kellman’s nephew.
When the concern was raised with the minister on Wednesday he sidestepped the issue, saying that the fact that the two shared the same last name did not mean they were related.
Kellman had also said the newly-appointed executive had emerged as the top candidate during the interviews and was most qualified for the position.
However, in its release today, the NUPW said the minister had sought to deceive the public on his relationship with the new manager.
“The Minister sought to convey that it was a coincidence that the person appointed as Human Resources Manager carried the surname Kellman. He failed to state that the person is the wife of his nephew. This is certainly misleading and seeks to evade the union’s claims of nepotism,” it said in the second of seven points challenging Kellman.
In defending the hiring, the Minister of Housing thanked Blackman for acting in the position for a year, but contradicted the union’s claims that she had not been compensated.
“I can assure you that the young lady would have been paid for a year in that said position and she was interviewed,” he said on Wednesday.
However, the NUPW today said there was no truth to the Kellman’s assertion.
“ The Minister claimed that Ms Polla Blackman, Assistant Human Resources Officer of the NHC was given a handsome package for acting. Ms Blackman has not been paid any monies to date for acting over a year as Human Resources Manager,” it stressed.
The union also took issue with Kellman’s claim that the appointment was an attempt by the NHC to comply with the guidelines set out by the Employment Rights Tribunal in its recent decision against the National Conservation Commission, saying the Tribunal did not dictate the method for filling vacancies at the NHC.
It also challenged the minister’s argument that the new Human Resources Manager was employed to put the provisions of the Employment Rigts Act in place and that he was surprised that the workers had walked off the job.
Having previously dismissed the interview process as a sham, the NUPW again argued that Blackman should have been confirmed in the job without having to compete for it.
“In response to the Minister’s comments on defending the selection of the person based on using the interviewing process, the NUPW is not questioning the process but rather the decision to use that process. This is based on the fact that the post of General Manager and Deputy General Manager were filled by the incumbents without advertising the positions. Equally, the Union is advancing that it would be reasonable and fair to extend the same accommodation to Ms Polla Blackman given the fact that she has been acting over a year as Human Resources Manager and is suitably qualified to fill the post,” it maintained.
“The NUPW concludes that presenting the facts and issues surrounding the recent action taken by NHC staff and given the persistent failure of the management of the Corporation in addressing the grievances of its employees, there is clear justification for pressing demand on having their grievances resolved.”
On Wednesday workers employed at the NHC followed through on a threat made last month to walk off the job on the first working day after the Crop Over weekend if anyone outside of the organization had been appointed to the position of Human Resources Manager.
However, following a brief meeting on the compound with NUPW acting Assistant General Secretary Wayne Walrond, they returned to work.