by Linda Straker
- Valerie Thomas terminated by PSC after 3 months of a 2-year contract
- Termination took effect as of 28 February
- Public Service Commission as a separate entity will not be accountable to current Government
Philip Telesford, Leader of Government Business in the Lower House of Parliament, said that he had not been provided with a reason or justification for the termination of Valerie Thomas, who was contracted to serve as Labour Commissioner in the Ministry of Labour for 2 years but was terminated after 3 months.
“In trying to obtain a reason or a justification, I did not get permission or a reason from the Public Service Commission,” Telesford told the House in response to questions submitted by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Mitchell.
The questions submitted originally for the April 2023 sitting were:
- What were the criteria and processes employed in selecting the former Labour Commissioner?
- What is the qualification and background that landed her the job?
- What is the reason for her dismissal?
During the May sitting of the Lower House, Telesford informed the House that under the current Dickon Mitchell National Democratic Congress administration, the Public Service Commission would not be accountable to the Government. “The Public Service Commission is a separate entity and does not, under this administration, answer to the Government of Grenada; they are a separate creature… and so I wish to advise the Leader of the Opposition to direct or so direct his question to the Public Service Commission,” he declared during the 23 May sitting of the Lower House.
The questions remained on the Order Paper for the 18 July sitting, and in his response said that the Public Service Commission (PSC), per its constitutional mandate, established a committee and a set of criteria for the assessment of suitably qualified candidates for the position of Labour Commissioner, advertised via Circular 14 of 2022.
“I emphasised, Mr Speaker, the Commission establishes its own procedures for its review of applications and in its own deliberate judgement made an appointment of one Valerie Thomas for the position,” he said. “As for the background qualifications and experiences, Ms Valerie Thomas is a graduate of the Cipriani College of Trinidad and Tobago in the field of labour and co-operate studies, specialised in labour studies with an emphasis on labour administration, dispute management and tripartite dialogue,” he told the House.
“As for the termination and seeking a response, per Section 84 (3), the termination is within the purvey of the public service Commission and in trying to obtain a reason or a justification, I did not get permission or a reason from the Public Service Commission,” Telesford said without pointing out or naming the document he was referring.
On 2 March, Labour Minister Claudette Joseph announced that the Public Service Commission terminated a 2-year contract with Valerie Thomas, who was serving in the post as Labour Commissioner from 12 November 2022, because “she did not work out to be a good fit with the staff at the Ministry of labour.”
“Upon review of the state of the relationship as requested by the Public Service Commission, it was decided by the Commission and the Ministry that it will be best for us to go back to the drawing board in our search for a labour commissioner that fits with the personnel,” Senator Joseph disclosed during a news conference on Thursday, 2 March 2023. She did not explain what triggered the review. The termination took effect on 28 February.
Joseph, who is also the Attorney General, said that Thomas did not fit in with the Dickon Mitchell administration’s general outlook as it sought to take steps to enhance the labour climate in Grenada for workers, employers and specifically the members of staff at the labour ministry who are delivering on the services to stakeholders.
“So, we have ended the relationship, and we will go back to the drawing board with a new labour commissioner to be announced in the not too distant future,” she said.