There was no need for me to take a management trainee course, I had worked with the Forestry Commission for nine years
Stabroek News
April 30, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Based on what I have read in the press, it appears that the following scenario has been presented to the GFC board. (1) Mr. Cummings demanded the specific position of Assistant Commissioner of Forests (ACF). (2) When he did not get that position he refused to work. (3) All of my colleagues who "coincidentally" - according to Ms. Balram - happened to be East Indians went through the Management Trainee Scheme (MTS).

Given the above scenario I can now understand (although I do not agree with) the decision the GFC board made.

So it is with my reputation at stake that I now give a chronological summary of the five letters I received from GFC and the 9 letters I wrote to GFC in this matter.

23rd May 2001 - Ms. Balram wrote that I have been transferred to the Northwest in the substantive post of Forest Ranger.

8th June - I wrote querying this and asked that the PSM and myself be formally told that GFC does not have a position for me and that I may have to seek alternative placement, since this was indicated to me by Ms. Balram.

8th June 2001 - Ms. Balram wrote confirming that I would resume duty in the substantive post of Forest Ranger. She wrote that I am "free to apply for any vacant position in the Commission, if you (I) so desire"

13th June 2001 - I wrote expressing my disappointment in GFC's position. I did a comparative table showing how my colleagues were treated against how I was being treated. (table below) I stated that based on the precedents set with my colleagues it was my expectation to return as ACF. I asked to be appointed to any position commensurate with my qualifications and experience.

I never got a response.

19th June 2001 - I asked that my transfer be put on hold due to personal family commitment. I asked to be provided with uniform cloth. I received no response to these three requests.

25th June - I applied for the position of ACFs. There was no response.

16th July - I applied to be placed on the Executive Diploma program, that was "specifically designed" for GFC according to the Commissioner. I never got a response.

17th July - I enquired about the status of my application.

17th July - Ms. Balram wrote that the position was not available, but GFC would "entertain" my "candidature" for a Management Trainee position, which would not "guarantee" an "automatic appointment" at the end.

20th July - I wrote showing that the position of ACF was vacant. (Ms. Balram in a letter she had written which was reproduced in the Kaieteur News acknowledged this fact when she wrote " approval was given to Mr. Mohammed (Khan) to be appointed ACF". A position has to be vacant for someone to be appointed to it). With regard to the Management Trainee Scheme I pointed out the following.

1. I was a permanent staff member of GFC with 4 1/2 years practical experience. [This point was made because the introduction to the MTS Policy states "Attempts to recruit new graduates from the University of Guyana are quite promising. However, their lack of experience is of concern to the GFC and to have them appointed immediately to permanent staff positions can certainly be detrimental to the future development of the organisation". One of the objectives of the MTS Policy states "to ensure that the trainee is a suitable candidate for a permanent position within GFC...". A third part of the policy states " the trainee will not benefit from the Commission's Medical nor Pension Schemes until he/ she would have been appointed to the permanent staff". Lastly under training the policy states " Assuming that the Graduand has no practical experience whatsoever, he/she would be unable to function effectively as a supervisor/ manager within the GFC". (Thus, there is no way I would have applied for a position that considered me as a "recruit" to an organisation I had served over nine (9) years with distinction, and that would have made me a temporary employee.)]

2. I pointed out that since the MTS came about in July, 1998 (that is the date of the policy) five of my colleagues had been recruited from UG with a Degree in Forestry that did not go through the MTS, even though they had no "practical work experience". {Ms. Balram has acknowledged this in her letter to Kaieteur News when she states " in fact, all graduates from the University have been employed either as Management Trainee or Monitoring Inspectors". I urge Stabroek News to correct the falsehood they had been reporting that all of my colleagues went through the MTS. The fact is that Mr. Mohammed Khan and Ms. Sumedha Mahadeo were employed as Forest Resource Planner and Botanist respectively and Mr. Jagdish Singh and Mr. Mohindra Chan as Monitoring Inspectors. Two of my said colleagues were promoted to positions of ACFs within 8 months of employment and another one to District Forest Officer within six months of employment. My point? What is good for the goose is good for the gander}. I closed that letter by stating " I am once again appealing to be placed in a position that is commensurate with my qualifications and experience". I got no response.

3rd August - I wrote to resume duty on the said date, but was sent away.

8th August 2001 - I took a letter from PSM to resume duty.

3. 8th August 2001 - Ms. Balram wrote that I should be in the Northwest by the 13th August 2001 and that the stay in transfer that I had written for six (6) weeks before was denied. (This was after I had enquired the said day)

4. 8th August 2001- I once again asked to be placed in a position commensurate with my qualifications and experience. I said I was not prepared to accept the position of Forest Ranger since it was not commensurate with my qualifications and experience. I asked to be informed if no such position existed, so that I can seek alternative options. (I reported to duty and sat for 2 days outside the office of Ms. Balram with no one telling me anything, until I received the dismissal letter).

13th August 2001- My services were terminated for refusing to accept posting and to execute any duties. The fact is, I never got to resume duty, and no work was assigned to me.

The following points should be noted.

1. I never made demand for the position of ACF. I stated it was my expectation to return as ACF, based on the precedents set with my colleagues (Everyone has expectations).

2. The position of ACF that I applied for was vacant and Ms. Balram has acknowledged this in her letter printed in the Kaieteur News. (A position has to be vacant for someone to be appointed).

3. Ms. Balram has not once argued that I was not eligible for such a position since I was more qualified and had more experience than all of my colleagues, who also did not go through the MTS.

4. All I sought by way of correspondence on at least three (3) occasions was to be appointed to a position commensurate with my qualifications and experience. Ms. Balram states in her letter that appointments are "quite in accordance with established HR policies". Ms. Balram went on to argue in that letter that Mr. Cummings failed to apply, refused to take interviews etc. The question is, if Mr. Khan could have been appointed to a post that was never advertised, why was I not appointed in a position commensurate with my qualifications and experience?

In her letter in the Kaieteur News Ms. Balram wrote "GFC has no record of any attempt to prevent Mr. Cummings completing his study, or of any intervention by Dr. Gopaul on his behalf". Ms. Balram also said that I was required to work during the recess. I have attached copies of (3) three letters that show how this is not so. The letter from PSM addressed to Head Human Resources GFC (Ms. Balram) stated (1) "Mr. Cummings has been granted a Government of Guyana Scholarship to pursue studies in Forestry and the said scholarship was for four (4) years duration". (2) "nowhere in Mr. Cummings contract with the Public Service Management is it stated that during the vacation period he is required to report for duty at the Guyana Forestry Commission" (3) The final paragraph of that letter stated "In light of these facts, and with the existence of a legally binding and enforceable Contract, the Guyana Forestry Commission cannot now unilaterally change the terms and conditions of the scholarship granted to Mr. Cummings, since this would constitute a breach of the Contractual arrangement between the Government of Guyana and Mr. Cummings".

Those are the facts, thus Ms. Balram could have hardly waited for me to return to GFC before she finished what she had previously tried, i.e. breaching my contract with the Government of Guyana.

I rest my case and I would not be communicating publicly on this matter, until such time as it is brought before bodies like the Ethnic Relations Commission.

I close with Booker T. Washington's paraphrase of the statement of that great man Frederick Douglas "I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are inflicting it upon me".

Yours faithfully,

Dexter Cummings