Jobs for the boys

Jobs for the boys

JUTC hires managing director with only high school diploma, increases other manager's salary by 583 per cent in one year

BY ARTHUR HALL
Editor-at-Large
halla@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 30, 2020

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ALLEGATIONS that the Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) has been used as a “feeding tree” for Government supporters over many years have been given credence by Auditor General Pamela Monroe Ellis in a report tabled in Parliament on Tuesday.

The special report covered the period April 2014 to March 2019 and, according to Monroe Ellis, it was augmented for completeness by a review of transactions beyond this period, where relevant.

Monroe Ellis said her department found several instances in which people were employed to the JUTC in positions for which they were not qualified, and the vacancies had never been advertised.

These included a managing director who was employed with a high school diploma, even though the post required a postgraduate degree in management/industrial engineering or equivalent qualifications from a recognised tertiary institution.

Also employed was a deputy managing director for engineering and technical services, who was given the job with an annual salary of $5.4 million and a fixed motor vehicle allowance of $1.3 million, despite no proof of a university degree. That post requires a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or equivalent.

Also a deputy managing director for human resources was employed with professional development certificates at an annual salary of $4.9 million and travelling allowance of $111,802 per month, despite the post requiring someone with a postgraduate diploma in human resource and 10 years' experience in personnel and employee relations.

Monroe Ellis noted that human resource best practice in Government, as well as JUTC's internal procedures, require that vacancies be advertised and the selection of candidates carried out in a manner that ensures equity and transparency in the recruitment and promotion process.

“However, we found no evidence that the positions for nine of 21 senior managers sampled were advertised, and no evidence that eight senior managers were interviewed in accordance with guidelines.

“Further, we gleaned that, despite the advertisement for the position of a security manager in December 2018, and interviews conducted with four candidates, the JUTC engaged another officer, who was not a part of the official recruitment process, on a one-year contract,” said Monroe Ellis.

“The JUTC indicated that the interview for the security manager did not yield any suitable candidate; therefore ,the selected individual was interviewed from a pool of applications on file. However, no evidence was provided to support this claim. Additionally, there was no evidence that the requisite minimum qualifications, as outlined in the job description for six of the senior managers engaged, were met,” added Monroe Ellis.

The JUTC's board of directors is scheduled to meet in an emergency meeting today to discuss the report, and is expected to issue a statement thereafter.

The auditor general also highlighted that, from its sample, two of the candidates were assigned to higher positions shortly after employment, which resulted in a 64 per cent and 583 per cent increase in their respective salaries.

“One was promoted within a year, despite an unsatisfactory performance appraisal, and the other without providing evidence of qualification. Despite requests, the JUTC did not provide a justification for the employment of a general manager and an operations manager in its corporate office at salaries of $6.4 million and $4.3 million, respectively, to unapproved positions, incurring additional costs to the entity.

“The employment of these officers was not subject to a competitive recruitment/selection process; there was also no signed job description outlining the actual functions and duties, as such no determination could be made as to the basis for employment, particularly in a context where the company faced decline in financial viability,” the auditor general reported.

The report also pointed out that the JUTC had employed people in 145 unapproved positions as at July 2019, with many permanently employed in positions from as far back as 2014, while the remainder related to temporary contracts.

“The number of persons in unapproved positions has been a chronic problem from as far back as 2013, with the last internal review in 2015 revealing 477 excess posts at the time,” noted Monroe Ellis.

The report noted that the management of the JUTC acknowledged that its staff complement exceeds those approved for the entity, but argued that this was a long-standing issue, stemming over 10 years.

The JUTC management said the matter was discussed at a meeting of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee in 2017, and since then it has been working with the unions, the Ministry of Transport, and the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service with a view to rectifying the issues.

“There has been a reduction of the number of confirmed staff in unapproved posts to 92. Additionally, since the completion of the AGD's [Auditor General Department's] fieldwork, the post of charter and events supervisor has been approved. Further, even though the post of junior legal officer is unestablished, approval was granted by the [finance ministry] for the operations of the post,” the report quoted the JUTC's management as saying.

The auditor general also raised concerns about the voluntary redundancy programme implemented by the JUTC, which she said cost the company $52 million between March 2018 and May 2019, without any clear criteria under which “voluntary separation” would be effected and no indication that this expenditure had been budgeted for.

“The JUTC's management explained that this was an attempt to reduce staff; however, the entity has since replaced 55 of 62 established positions with officers who were confirmed without post-numbers. Notwithstanding, management continued to employ persons on temporary contracts and in positions that were unapproved, resulting in an increase in JUTC staff complement, with an additional 48 staff employed in August 2019,” noted Monroe Ellis.

Table showing movement in salary from stores clerk to acting depot manager

Date Position Annual Salary and Allowance Percentage Change (%)

April 2018 Stores Clerk $568,256.00

June 2018 Fuel Control Officer $2,295,347.25 304 per cent

November 2018 Fuel Control Officer $2,371,147.25 317 per cent

May 6, 2019 Acting Depot Ops Manager $3,878,826.99 583 per cent

Issues:

* Officer did not meet minimum qualification as per job description.

* No evidence of position being advertised internally/externally.

* Officers' promotion resulted in an approximate increase of 583 per cent on salary despite unsatisfactory job performance evaluation.


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