Council’s actions illegal− GPSU Rep

Almost three months have elapsed since Linden Town Clerk (TC) Jonellor Bowen was sent on administrative leave based on the recommendations by Linden Mayor, Carwyn Holland, and several councillors within the municipality of the Linden Mayor and Town Council (LM&TC).

However, to date, there has been no update on the status of the investigation and the Council is still awaiting the findings of a hearing into the alleged wrongdoings by the TC from the Ministry of Communities.

Bowen had been sent on administrative leave pending the results of the hearing.

According to Mayor Holland at the time, a ‘no objection’ letter had been received from the Ministry of Communities on 4 October, following an examination of the Council’s requests and recommendations for the TC to proceed on administrative leave.

Prior to that, he had explained that a letter was sent to the Communities Ministry on 9 September 2016.

Bowen has sought legal action against the Council who has since requested the annulment of her leave. The Council had also passed a no confidence motion against the TC.

Her attorney has threatened court proceedings, should the Council fail to adhere to that letter. Speaking to this publication on Thursday, Bowen said that things are progressing slowly, while she confirmed that there has been no response from Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan.

She revealed that her attorney also dispatched a letter to the Minister, and is presently awaiting a response.

Also speaking on the issue, Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) Region 10 (Upper Demerara/Berbice) representative Maurice Butters questioned whether the Council was acting within the law by its decision to send the TC on administrative leave. Butters noted that, in his opinion as a union representative, the actions of the Council were illegal.

“My position on it is: ‘Is it that the Council has the authority to do what it did?’ That was my first question. Whether the Council should not have informed the Ministry PS (Permanent Secretary) or the Minister to take action. But they are saying that either the Minister or the PS gave them permission to take action. They can’t. No political position can take administrative decisions. She (TC) was the Chief Administrator…It is not the Council who appointed her. The Council would have made recommendations to the Minister and the Minister instructs the PS or the Public Service to make such an appointment. So, what they did, in my opinion is illegal.”

Additionally, the GPSU representative questioned whether there is evidence to support the Council’s allegations against the TC.

“That is what they have to justify. Even if she leaked information, is it true or not? That is the question they need to answer”, Butters stated.

He further outlined that Bowen can seek representation from the union despite the fact that she is not a member, although the union does not always choose to represent non-members. Regardless, he said he has had a discussion with the TC regarding the issues.

“I deal with the issue, as a trade unionist, regardless of which Party or colour, I have an obligation to represent you. So we were in discussion about the issues and these are some of the things that I discussed with her and I said to her if there are any leads let me know so we can start the representation,” Butters noted.

Meanwhile, there are accusations that the Council’s actions are in clear violation of the Municipal and District Councils Act, Chapter 28:0, however, the LMTC maintains that it proceeded in accordance with the Act, Chapter 28:0, Section 8 A, Subsection G, which states that the Council shall “ensure that the municipality is managed in a professional and competent manner by a qualified Town Clerk” and Section 8 A, Subsection H, which states that the Council “shall perform any other duties or functions imposed on the Council by this or any other law or by the Council”.