Polygraph testing coming for Antigua’s public sector workers
ST JOHN’S, Antigua (CMC) – The Antigua and Barbuda Government says it will seek parliamentary approval to introduce polygraph testing for various categories of public sector workers
Immigration Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez told reporters that five Immigration Department employees, who failed a similar test, would not be re-employed. The workers are claiming wrongful dismissal.
"Polygraph testing will continue because that it is something that needs to be done. We have agreed there has to be something put in place legally and as a result of that, we will be going to Parliament very shortly. I know the AG’s office is looking at polygraph testing because it will not be related to the Immigration Department."
He said the police, Customs and army are among divisions of the Government where the "polygraph test will be…required".
According to Fernandez, trade unions which represent public sector workers have been informed of the Gaston Browne Administration’s moves, including the union representing workers at the Immigration Department.
"We have said to them that we are going to be looking to take this to Parliament. I hope to have some more dialogue once we have the draft of the legislation with the union going forward, and I am sure the same thing will happen for the other departments."
The five workers had been dismissed after they were found, following a polygraph test, to have been involved with the use of illicit drugs.
"The Cabinet has agreed that anyone that is involved in anything related to drugs, whether it be taking drugs or being associated with drugs, would not be allowed to remain in the Immigration Department," Fernandez said.
But their bargaining agent, the Antigua Trades and Labour Union is challenging their dismissal on the grounds that the process the Immigration Department took to remove them was inconsistent with the law.
According to the union, the recruits were called before Chief Immigration Officer Annette Mark on July 23, informed of their termination, then received official letters to that effect days after.
"We are under a lot of scrutiny internationally from the US, the Canadians, and the British in particular, and in general, most of the countries that send representatives, one of the first, most important issues to them (is) border security.
"So that is something we had put in place from the beginning (with) regards to persons involved in drugs and drug-related matters. There is no room for them in the Immigration Department," Fernandez added.