by Zena Henry
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is investigating the alleged dismissal of six secretarial staff once attached to the dismissed Health Minister, Bheri Ramsaran after they allegedly refused to take orders from his substitute replacement, Public Service Minister, Jennifer Westford.
The employees are being described as loyalists to the former Minister who got the boot for threatening to “slap and strip” a female rights activist after she challenged him on his “poor” record as Minister of Health. It is alleged that Westford had gone to the Ministry and gave orders to the staff who allegedly claimed that they were only reporting to Minister Ramsaran.
Further allegations say that after Ramsaran was relieved from his duties as Healt Minister, he was still conducting work at the Ministry and performing duties in his former capacity. It is alleged that when wind of this became public, moves were made to have Westford man the Ministry.
After registering their dissatisfaction with the new arrangement and refusing to accept Westford, the staffers were relieved of their duties. Demerara Waves was unable to ascertain however whether the staffers were relieved indefinitely or sent home temporarily.
GPSU’s Senior Industrial Relations Officer, Dennis English, responsible for health workers, told Demerara Waves that while no official complaint was made about the matter, he had gotten word of the case and is currently investigating the matter. The officer said at the time of the telephone interview that he had made several tries to communicate with the Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary but was unable to do so.
He said the word he received is that the staffers had refused to follow Minister Westford’s orders and they were asked to leave the building; reportedly escorted by security personnel.
However Minister Westford has refuted the incident ever happening. After stating that she does not discuss her work with the media, the Minister said in the telephone interview that, “I have nothing to do with that.” She added that, “whoever is saying that is making up lies.”