Staff accuses convener of unprofessionalism, throwing insults
Following an announcement earlier this month that the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) needs to be restructured in order to uphold the national objective of moving towards a “green” economy and the consequent realignment of critical agencies of State, a meeting was held with some 230 employees on Friday. However, as the meeting got underway, things went south as staff of the GFC felt disrespected by what they described as arrogant and unprofessional behaviour of the Restructuring Task Force’s convener, Clayton Hall. The staff are now calling for the Government to either halt the restructuring or replace the convener.
Speaking with this publication, several employees said that the meeting was convened to “put the minds of staff members at ease” as they were uneasy as to what the Government restructuring had meant. One employee said that several questions were posed concerning issues such as the merging of the Monitoring Division and Resources Management Division as well as the dismissal of staff members.
In a letter to the editor, a staff stated that questions were also asked pertaining to whether the restructuring process was a “witch-hunting exercise” aimed at removing specific individuals from the GFC and if the task force, which Hall heads, is experienced in Human Resources Management to undertake a task such as this, among other questions.
However, according to a staff member, Hall was “unprepared for those questions” and responded instinctively, which was deemed as the “most striking degree of unprofessional conduct”.
“He was condescending, offensive and outright shameful. In his worst moment, he referred to the GFC staff as ignorant, incompetent and in his words, ‘not bright’”.
Staff members of the GFC are now contending that if the Natural Resources Ministry is well-intended on this restructuring process, they will consider forthwith, “a more logical and transparent route to the restructuring, in resting this important activity to the GFC Board as the main body that oversees the Commission”.
According to a senior source at the GFC, several phone calls were made to members of the Board between Friday and Saturday by various staff members, who voiced their complaints about the conduct of the meeting.
In light of this, the Board is expected to convene a special meeting soon to address these issues and pronounce on the way forward.
Several calls by this publication to Hall went unanswered.
The Task Force was established jointly between the Natural Resources Ministry and the Board of Directors of the GFC to address the reorganising and restructuring of the Commission.
According to the Ministry earlier this month, the Task Force will include the technical and administrative talent and personnel of the Natural Resources Ministry, the Board, and the Commission, who will examine the structure and functioning of the GFC to make recommendations to Minister Trotman. He, in turn, is mandated to present a report to Cabinet.
The establishment of the Task Force comes at a time when the GFC is lacking adequate financing to sustain itself. Only recently, reports surfaced that several employees were not paid and a number of financial difficulties are being experienced at the once striving entity.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo recently called out the coalition Government for the “bankrupting of institutions”.
“This Government has been bankrupting institutions. At the Guyana Forestry Commission, they are unable to pay staff due to lack of funds. Now they want to restructure it and they are putting a senior AFC official [Clayton Hall] to lead the restructuring process at a technical agency,” the Opposition Leader said.
He noted that he suspected there are other motives behind the restructuring but added that the “staff needs to be paid and they have to stop bleeding the GFC. This Government is totally hopeless. Not only this is going to happen but almost everything is going to be bankrupt. They just need a little more time”.