$12-m HR manager

House committee questions compensation to Petrojam's human resource executive

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, June 14, 2018

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GENERAL manager of Petrojam Floyd Grindley yesterday confirmed that the current human resources (HR) manager of the State-owned oil refinery is earning $12 million per annum, almost $3 million more than her predecessor.

Grindley and his team, as well as the group general manager of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, Winston Watson, appeared before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) of Parliament to answer questions about Petrojam's operations and expenditure.

St Andrew East Rural Member of Parliament Juliet Holness broached the $12-million salary issue, which Energy Minister Dr Andrew Wheatley two weeks ago declined to comment on, telling the House of Representatives that he could not confirm the reported amount that the HR manager was said to be earning.

The Petrojam manager told the House committee that all compensation by the company to an employee is in compliance with the approved band by the Ministry of Finance. He added that the compensation for the previous HR manager was $9.5 million; however, that manager was supported by an industrial relations (IR) consultant who was paid approximately $5.2 million for the year.

“The current HR manager is not complemented with an IR consultant because of her skill set and the experience that she is bringing to Petrojam… so we would be paying more for the previous HR (manager) and the support,” he said.

Grindley, who faced the brunt of pointed questions about a spectrum of issues related to Petrojam from committee members, insisted that the new HR manager has the necessary qualification to cover the job of an IR consultant, noting too that she has brought to the table several initiatives to improve staffing.

“The current person has skill sets from recruitment all the way to retention. [She] has bachelor's in human resources, an MBA along with many other certification,” Grindley said. He promised to provide the committee, at a later date, with full details on the manager's experience, expertise and qualification. He also stressed that the $12 million is within the Ministry of Finance's salary band of $9.5 million to $12.97 million.

“She came there a year ago. At what point on that scale she came in at?” St Catherine Southern MP Fitz Jackson demanded of Grindley, who promised to get back to the committee with that information.

PAAC members were also concerned about the rate of staff turnover at the State oil refinery, a point which Petrojam itself raised in its report to the committee.

Pressed about the number of dismissal cases that are now before the Ministry of Labour, Grindley said he knew of only two cases, one of which is before the Industrial Disputes Tribunal.

Asked about the claim made by the employees, the general manager said due process was followed in relation to the terminations, a response which inflamed Jackson.

“Mr Grindley, I have been here long enough to hear all kinds of mumbo jumbo…I can identify it when I see it. I don't want it from you. What was the claim made by the employee?” Jackson asked.

“The allegations are unfair dismissal,” Grindley responded.

He also disclosed that during the past year, 13 out of the company's 130 technical employees have quit, noting that in the previous years the company had seen about four per cent of technical staff moving on annually.

“… So it is phenomenally high; your employment environment has changed dramatically. I'm curious to know what has contributed to that volatility…four per cent to 10 per cent is a big jump,” Jackson pointed said.

Grindley responded: “The reason, we are being told, is that employees are moving to greener pastures that are offering better salaries”.

Petrojam, in its report submitted to the committee, noted human resource issues affecting the company, such as high staff turnover, demotivated staff, weaknesses in the union/management relationship, and inadequate management of human capital, resulting in loss of skills and competencies in critical areas.

At the same time, the company said it has launched strategic initiatives to address those issues and promote a high performance culture. According to the report, this includes the development of a corporate communication plan, a talent management framework, a leadership development framework, and a public relations and communications programme.

Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis is currently conducting an audit at the oil refinery which employs 356 people.

Petrojam under fire for rate of attrition at company

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