McDowall was not victimized, says Chief Personnel Officer

Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Gail Atkins has broken her silence on the controversy surrounding the reversion of National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) President Akanni McDowall to an entry level post in the Ministry of Health.

Atkins released a statement today through the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) emphatically denying the Public Administration Department (PAD) had victimized McDowall, or that there were ulterior motives for removing the trade union leader from the post of Health Planning Officer, in which he recently acted.

In fact, the CPO said the PAD had no record of McDowall ever holding the position from which he is reported to have been removed.

“There have been claims in the media that Mr McDowall was demoted from the acting post of Health Promotions Officer. However, according to the Chief Personnel Officer, the PAD has no record of Mr McDowall ever having held such a post,” the BGIS statement said.

The CPO explained that one post of Health Promotions Officer was created in 2009, and the officer who had occupied that position was subsequently promoted and someone other than McDowall was given the post.

“I do not know of any other post of Health Promotions Officer in that ministry. Therefore, the Personnel Administration Division cannot substantiate McDowall’s claim based on the data we have. Our assignment record shows that he was, and is an Environmental Health Assistant,” Atkins said.

The CPO disclosed the chronology of events that led to McDowall’s reversion, beginning with his appointed as Environmental Health Assistant II on October 1, 2006, on to Environmental Health Assistant I on August 1, 2008, and his acting appointment as Environmental Health Officer from July 28 to December 31, 2015, before returning to his substantive post from January 1 this year.

However, the row between the NUPW and Government involves McDowall’s acting appointment as Health Planning Officer from June 8 to October 14 this year. The CPO explained that after the Public Service Commission had accepted the recommendation for McDowall to act in the post, the Ministry of Health advised that it had requested an officer with a background in economics, not public health, therefore McDowall had to be replaced.

“The Ministry of Health indicated what its needs were; we made an assessment of the needs and found they were justified and we went back to the Public Service Commission,” she stated.

According to the statement, the PAD “advised that McDowall’s acting appointment should cease, and an officer with the requisite qualifications was recruited. She has insisted that contrary to the union’s suggestions, the new holder of the post meets the qualifications and stressed that McDowall’s return to his substantive post had nothing to do with him being the President of the National Union of Public Workers”.

The NUPW has accused Government of victimizing its president over his militancy in dealing with a number of contentious industrial relations issues, including those related to the Sanitation Service Authority, the National Conservation Commission and the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc, which was said to be nearing a settlement.

The union has also insisted that the person who replaced McDowall in the senior position was not qualified and superseded several other public servants who were senior to hear.

The union has threated to disrupt the visit of Britain’s Prince Harry for Barbados’ 50 anniversary of Independence, as part of its efforts to force Government to reinstate McDowall.

13 Responses to McDowall was not victimized, says Chief Personnel Officer

  1. Hal Austin November 11, 2016 at 4:39 am

    Stop apologising to the NUPW and Mr McDowall. They are picking a fight. If it was not this it would have been anything, even the number of monkeys in the island.
    The issue is trivial, it is the fight they want against a weak government.

  2. Tony Webster November 11, 2016 at 4:57 am

    Hal: You may be right, and unions generally are clearly struggling to regain their relevance , but but this pales in significance when considered alongside the mess this government has placed us in, in so many respects: sins of commission, and of omission; of arrogance, and of neglect….the list is endless.

    Some of the crucial points in an issue like this, (which the nice CPO has conveninetly NOT mentioned) is if the senior post was never a post, and was never filled, was the young man given a raise to that level by some mysterious authority? Is she going to sue (or fire) someone because of emoluments improperly paid? God only knows what happens all over the public service, and even a mighty Mr Leigh Trotman cannot look under each and every stone, in all Ministries, departments, S.O.E.’s etc.
    C.B.C. alone, cud have a “tell-all’ book written about it.

  3. Hal Austin November 11, 2016 at 5:18 am

    You are right. But there is a back story. About 27 per cent of all working Barbadians work in the public sector. People live in fear of losing their jobs. I know of one former senior public sector official (I won’t name the sector) who lost his job and drifted in to acute poverty. As a former school mate (St Giles and Combermere) I went to visit him and offered some help, but his pride prevented him from accepting.
    Most Bajan households are deep in debt, to the tune of more than 100 per cent of their annual pay. Yet they have about Bds$1bn in savings, even though they have high debt.
    In most developed countries, most working people have personal savings of three to six months of their household debts, including mortgage/rent, in case they were to lose their jobs. Barbadians do not.
    It is this fear that is driving their trade union militancy. They see the unions as a lifesaver.
    This is made worse by a historically incompetent government. People do not see a rosy future.
    That is the real issue that we should be dealing with, not if a union official was returned to his substantive position for political reasons. Was he ‘promoted’ for political reasons.
    To muddy the waters with talk of qualifications is nonsense. We have PhDs working as plumbers in the UK. I once had an Oxford/MIT PhD in nuclear physics who worked as a maths teacher in secondary school.

  4. harry turnover November 11, 2016 at 6:36 am

    “In fact, the CPO said the PAD had no record of McDowall ever holding the position from which he is reported to have been remove” ??????????? So how did he get there ? who gave him the letter ? who was paying him the acting allowance ?

  5. Patrick November 11, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Harry, find out if he had any relatives or friends working in a senior position in the ministry, something is wrong.

  6. Loretta Griffith November 11, 2016 at 10:09 am

    Patrick you are on point.
    Wished we had more objectivity.

  7. Phil November 11, 2016 at 11:33 am

    A number od inaccuracies have surfaced, and most are forming their own opinions. What took CPO Gail so long to release that statement or excuse? Was she awaiting legal counsel’s advise? Harry Turnover asked the perfect questions. Here’s what else needs to be addressed….. There MUST be some legal and legitimate hard copy communication from the CPO to Mr. McDowall regarding this appointment, Unless that evidence disappeared like Trump’s back taxes or Hillary’s e/mails. Is he qualified or over qualified for that position? Why the sudden removal from the position ? especially after proving a high standard of proficiency? What did he do or did not do to deserve this treatment? Clearly, the CPO has identified herself as a rubber stamp. Somewhat like The Chief Town Planner. Finally, this report is long and boring. My cup of coffee after my disappointing trip to vote for Hillary proved futile. The world awaits.

  8. 3rdsun November 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Clearly most of you didn’t read. She states that the reported position of Health Promotions Officer was never assigned to him, but that of Health Planning Officer.

  9. Carson C Cadogan November 11, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    This is wonderful.

    A bunch of NUPW idiots want to hold the country, not the Govt. to ransom so that Akanni McDowall, a man who is not qualified for the job he was holding can be retained in said job. They wanted someone with an Economics background which he does not have.

    The NUPW is causing trouble in the country so that a square peg(Akanni McDowall) can be put in a round hole. Dont we have enough of that in the Public sector already?

    This has nothing to do with Trade Unionism. Its about putting the right person in the right place.


    Roslyn Smith is as stupid as she looks.

  10. Loretta Griffith November 11, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Former prime minister Mr Owen Arthur is alleged to have spoken of old house occupying prime land, and with respect, this seems to be happening with the unions.
    When they try to hold this country to ransom, who are they hurting? Certainly not Mr Stuart, his pension is already guaranteed. Only the innocent among us will suffer, and for what or whom?
    The unscrupulous among us will continue with their ostentatious life styles and weak will get weaker.
    I hope common sense prevails even though it’s not that common.

  11. Phil November 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Hey Carson, Trump is NOT qualified in any way to be President of the USA either. But he is designated for the job. I did not read the whole article. Too long, nonsensical and boring. Short and to the point is my thing. A cup of coffee, and more time to do my work. BT caters to people who have nothing to do, and all day to do it.

  12. Sherlock Holmes. November 11, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Phil what the hell you know about Trump stop jumping on the band wagon of the MSM.

  13. Phil November 11, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    I see Sherlock, you’re a white ni ni niga too stop sucking up. I am privileged to vote in the USA . Are you and did you? What the hell do you know about Trump?


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