Grilling of BVTB Director continues
It was another session of intense grilling yesterday for Director of the Barbados Vocational Training Board (BVTB) Henderson Thompson, as the Employment Rights Tribunal continued its hearing into the dismissal of Marketing and Public Relations Officer Jasmine Valerie Payne nearly three years ago.
For just over two hours, legal counsel for Payne, Tricia Watson cross examined Thompson on the role her client played in the compilation of the board’s annual reports.
Citing the Occupational Training Act, 1979, Cap 42, Watson told the tribunal that under the Act the management of the BVTB was mandated to produce an annual report detailing the activities of the board and an audited financial statement.
During today’s sitting it was disclosed that Payne was dismissed from her position at the board because she failed to produce the annual reports for circulation.
However, in her defence Watson pointed out that from as far back as 2005, the board had failed to produce annual reports in a timely manner, but noted that since assuming office, Payne had been able to reduce the backlog.
Though not stating clearly that her client was wrongfully dismissed, Watson pointed out that her client’s job description entailed compiling the human resources aspect of the operations of the board, while the audited financial statement would be left to the accounts department.
In her submission, Watson stressed that her client could not be accused of dereliction of duty since she ensured that the human resources aspect of each report was prepared in a timely manner.
During his cross examination, Thompson admitted that Payne prepared the annual report in draft and submitted it to him for approval before it was forwarded to the board for confirmation and circulation.
Thompson said that on assuming office in November 2010, there was a backlog of annual reports going back as far as 2005.
Last Wednesday, Thompson told the Employment Rights Tribunal the Board erred in its handling of the termination of Payne on October 31, 2013.
During her two-hour cross examination Watson succeeded in getting Thompson to admit that both he and the BVTB had failed to follow the relevant mandatory procedures set out in the Employment Rights Act before informing Payne by letter that the statutory board would not renew her fixed-date contract.
The witness further conceded that he ignored those procedures which must be adhered to before the services of an employee could be terminated.
Today’s sitting was held before a three-member panel of Chairman Omari Drakes, Dr Hartley Richards and Frederick Forde.
The hearing continues tomorrow in the conference room of the Labour Department, Warrens, St Michael, at a time to be announced.