ERC to recruit special team to probe employment practices at GECOM

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ERC Chairman Bishop John Smith

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) will soon be contracting the services of a team of three persons to assist with investigations into the alleged unfair hiring practices at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

INews was informed that the three persons are an attorney, a human resource specialist and a special investigator. They will look into the issue and report back to the ERC, and ultimately GECOM.

ERC Chairman Dr John Smith has confirmed that the team will start its work shortly, and could wrap up investigations in a month or two, to assist early resolution of this matter.

A meeting was already held with the Opposition, wherein these concerns were raised. The ERC will also meet with GECOM Chairman Justice James Patterson for his views on the allegations of ethnic imbalance in the staff composition at GECOM.

People’s Progressive Party (PPP) GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn, and Bibi Shaddick have filed complaints with the ERC over alleged biases in employment practices at the GECOM. They argue that a vast majority of the staff at GECOM are persons of one ethnic group.

The PPP Commissioners claim that GECOM Chairman James Patterson had prevented Commissioner Robeson Benn, who had initially raised the ethnic bias complaint, from further defending his position; and when challenged, had adjourned a meeting for over half an hour.

Their allegations were followed by an earlier statement made by executive member of the PPP, Dr Roger Luncheon, who made allegations against the GECOM regarding the same issue.

He said it was brought to his attention that People’s National Congress (PNC) Commissioners are allegedly engaged in a process to eliminate certain candidates applying for advertised positions at the Secretariat.

In addition, he said, it would seem that Government Commissioners were aiming at such an objective by resorting to “giving low-to-zero scores to candidates of Indian origin who are shortlisted during the interview process, while providing high-to-100 per cent scores to their preferred candidates”.

Further, the former Head of the Presidential Secretariat also alleged that the Commissioners were finding extraneous reasons for eliminating top candidates of Indian origin from appointment to positions.

In February 2018, President David Granger swore-in the 10-member ERC after a seven-year hiatus. The members are: Bishop John Smith (Chairperson), Mr Barrington Braithwaite, Ms Ruth Howard, Mr Roshan Khan, Major General (Ret’d) Norman McLean, Pandit Deodat Persaud, Mr Ashton Simon, Ms Rajkumarie Singh, Mr Neaz Subhan and Mr Norris Witter.

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