MoTP denies firing PSM staff …but termination letter proves otherwise

WPA Chairperson Tabitha Sarabo-Halley
WPA Chairperson Tabitha Sarabo-Halley

Hours after the Ministry of the Presidency denied that newly appointed Public Service Minister, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley sent the personnel department and the chief accountant packing on Friday last, a document seen by INews proved otherwise.

A “Determination of Contract” letter signed by the Minister in question was addressed to a staff member stating that his services will no longer be required.

“Pursuant to the aforesaid contract of employment, your services are hereby terminated with immediate effect”, the letter stated.

In addition, the letters also include that the recipient of the letter will be given one month’s salary in lieu of notice. The former employee was also asked to return all property belonging to the Government so that the work of the Ministry can continue. Ironically, the letter also stated, “Please accept greatest gratitude for your invaluable contributions to our nation”.

INews understands that several staff members received similar letters on Friday last.

This letter came to light on Tuesday after Deputy Director of Press Affairs at the Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP), Ariana Gordon, was quoted as saying “The civil servants in question have not been dismissed. Some allegations have been levelled against them, and those [allegations] would be the subject of an investigation.” She added that the Government is very respectful to the rights of civil servants.

However, this is not the only instance of such an action by the Government. In 2018, a staff member of the Ministry of the Presidency who had been in the employ of the Government for ten years received a similar letter without any reason or explanation.

That individual was then recommended to another Ministry but was subsequently denied all retroactive pay and increases as a result of her termination.

It was reported that just over three weeks after being appointed Public Service Minister, Sarabo-Halley sent the entire personnel department and the accountant packing.

According to information received, the Minister claimed that the department is moving in a different direction and that the services of the old staff will no longer be required.

A source related that the Minister does not have the authority to dismiss any staff member.

“As far as I know, a Minister does not have the authority to dismiss any staff… it is [the] duty of the Permanent Secretary to do so,” the source recalled.

Some of these staff members, he noted, have been working at the Ministry for the past fifteen years. The source posited that the other staff members, as well as those sent packing, were in tears as they were being escorted out of the building.

Minister Sarabo-Halley had stated that she did not wish to offer a comment on the matter at the time she was contacted.