The Guyana Local Government Officers Union (GLGOU) has given the Ministry of Local Government 72 hours to rescind its decision to appoint Carol Sooba to the position of Town Clerk or face industrial action by city workers.
President of the union Dale Beresford yesterday at a press briefing in the Deputy Mayor’s office at City Hall said the union also wants the ministry to explain the rationale behind the appointment.
“We are giving the Minister 72 hours in which industrial action and other measures will be taken. Industrial action does not only include strike…we will take whatsoever course of action. As we speak out international affiliates which include Public Services International have been alerted and this will be going far and high. This is an injustice not only for the ordinary worker, but any worker in Guyana. It makes no sense for you to go to school if you can have a qualification from since before I was born and you can be at the highest position in the city of Georgetown something is wrong…some screw or screws is loose somewhere,” he said.
After several months of acting in the capacity of Town Clerk for Georgetown, Sooba was on Wednesday confirmed in the position, despite lacking the required qualifications set down for the post. Since her appointment as acting Town Clerk in 2012, Sooba and city councillors have been at odds over the affairs of the municipality and a no-confidence motion was passed against her by a majority of the councillors after she was deemed unfit and unqualified.
The members of the interview panel responsible for vetting applicants for the Town Clerk position were drawn from five different entities and included Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government Collin Croal, who was the chairperson on the panel; Deputy Mayor Patricia Chase-Green, Beresford; the principal personnel officer from the Public Services Ministry; and a representative from the Ministry of Finance.
Stabroek News made several attempts to contact Croal for a comment during the course of yesterday as to how the final appointment was made but these were unsuccessful.
According to Beresford, “The union has written the Ministry of Local Government and we have also informed our members and we will not assent to this decision and we will not agree to Ms. Sooba bypassing our members. The union was represented at that panel, we went through a transparent integrity process of appointing someone and we believe that this person could have taken the municipality to where it ought to be.
This person has the international experience, they have the initiative and strategy which is what the municipality needs at this point in time.”
He added, “The entire interview panel unanimously agreed when we came out of that room that that applicant was the most suitable and our hope was that that would be communicated to the Minister and acted upon.”
When contacted, Paul Clark who was the reported frontrunner for the position told Stabroek News that he was not aware that Sooba had been appointed the Town Clerk as he has not heard any announcement. “I don’t know anything… I applied and I have to listen to the announcement that Luncheon made,” he said.
Beresford added that Sooba was among the list of applicants who applied for the position and was deemed as not meeting the prerequisite qualifications to be shortlisted. “It was noted that Ms. Sooba …failed to walk with her originals of her qualifications, even after being told to do so. This was brought to the attention of the head of the interview panel.
Her inability to complete a three year academic programme at the University of Guyana after seven years is in itself a tremendous achievement,” he added.
Chase-Green said that the three highest positions at City Hall—Chief Medical Officer, Treasurer and the Town Clerk—are managed by under-qualified personnel.
Chase-Green said that Minister in the Ministry of Local Government, Norman Whittaker should be ashamed as Sooba came from out of nowhere and got the position.
Meanwhile, Stabroek News understands that at least one of the applicants is planning to pursue the matter legally.