The Public Service Union, PSU, and the Protect Areas Conservation Trust, PACT, are at odds. Last week PACT announced that it had embarked on a restructuring exercise. PACT says that it has decided to execute this restructuring exercise in order to implement a new operational framework. However, the PSU says that PACT employees have been terminated as a direct result of ongoing restructuring exercise. The PSU also says that the remaining staff was forced to sign contracts in order to continue to be employed at PACT. Minister of Fisheries, Forestry, and Environment and Sustainable Development, Omar Figueroa, addressed the matter.
OMAR FIGUEROA, MINISTER OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
“PACT has a mandate to really finance the national network of protected areas. Currently, all assessments indicate that we are falling about $20 million to $30 million short of really having the resources to do an effective and efficient management of this network. Last year we conducted an institutional assessment of PAC to help us to show the strengths and weaknesses of the institution and several things were flagged. Without going into details we are now trying to implement a new framework and structure that will guide PACT into the future. Within that framework, we were advised legally to transition from the old to the new we would really need to terminate the current status at PACT in order, to begin with, the new. So nobody was fired, we had to terminate and everybody was offered the opportunity to continue. There were, however, two posts that were declared redundant; without going into details it was just really responsibilities that were being paid too much for what was being done at PACT. So two posts were declared redundant, they received all their compensations that were deserving. So the new staff are now all of them were offered the opportunity to continue with PACT, with the new terms of course because PACT with the increased mandate that it has moved forward it will call for new rules and new responsibilities so two persons were declared redundant and the rest have been given the opportunity to come back but nobody is being forced to do anything.”
In a release, PACT stated quote, “As part of this process, employees were given paid leave and a copy of the draft contract to aid them in their consultation and consideration of the new terms which to date they have all voluntarily accepted; some employees doing so as soon as the day after being notified. PACT received no objections from employees to signing their contracts of service.” End of quote. Additionally, PACT says that there is no type of agreement between PACT and the PSU and PACT did not receive any indication from its Union members that they wished to be represented by the Union in this matter.