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GPSU women call for removal of Region Three official accused of sexual harassment

(L-R) Second Vice President Dawn Gardener, GPSU General Secretary Deborah Murphy and Third Vice President Carmelita Laulys.

The Guyana Public Service Union Women’s Organisation is calling for the senior Region Three official accused of sexual harassment to be removed from duty until an investigation is completed.

The call came on Tuesday at a news conference held at the GPSU Headquarters on Regent Street.

“We are demanding an investigation by the honourable Minister of Public Service since she has responsibility for the public servants. In addition to that we are asking that the [official] as well as his deputy be removed from office during the investigation,” General Secretary Deborah Murphy said.

The virtual complainant (VC) in her statement on the matter had said that she reported the alleged harassment to the official’s deputy but no action was taken. The deputy has denied receiving any complaints from the woman.

The GPSU women are also calling on women’s organisations and the public to support their case. Murphy said they will also be writing agencies which may have any connection to the issue.

Second Vice President Dawn Gardener said the GPSU had also started an investigation into the matter which had been reported to the police.

She added that it would have been the professional thing to remove the accused from the position. Additionally, the women’s group wants the VC to be reinstated in her appointed designation. The woman, who was a Public Service Commission-appointed accounts clerk with the region’s accounting unit, was transferred to a hospital in the region since the incident.

“We are calling on ministers of different ministries because we have a Sexual Harassment Act which is in force, we have a Women and Gender Equality Commission, we have women’s arms of different organisations and we’re calling on the support of all these persons … it’s time we put an end to sexual harassment in the public service,” Gardener said.

When contacted about the GPSU’s call for the official’s removal Permanent Secretary in the Local Government Ministry Collin Croal pointed out that the matter was now the subject of a criminal investigation.

“It’s not that we don’t have anything to do … but we’re allowing the judicial system to take its course.”

And on the woman’s transfer being rescinded Croal said that had nothing to do with the matter at hand.

The official was last week released on station bail after giving investigators an oral statement. He planned to submit a written statement shortly, police said.

Police sources said the 37-year old woman alleged that the official put his hand in her blouse and fondled her breast on June 18. Sources said the woman told police that she had gone to him with a voucher when he allegedly committed the act and said “your time is due.”

Sources said the woman decided to report the matter to the police on June 28 after she did not receive a satisfactory response from other senior officials. According to the sources, all they told the woman was “that is a serious matter.”