Last night we reported on the laying off of workers at the City Hall. A well-placed source gave us information that 25 persons were terminated for redundancy or poor work ethic.
Today we caught up with Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley. We asked him to explain why the downsizing is necessary.
First off, he told us that it was actually 22 persons who were terminated and not 25 as was our information. He also told us that it was not intended to be any form of victimization.
According to Bradley they did a human resource audit, and these people were the non-performing employees. Because City Hall is in a bind for finances, these people had to be terminated.
Here's how he explained it to us:
Darrell Bradley - Belize City Mayor
"The employees were terminated; they weren't dismissed. When I took office, what we did is that we looked at comprehensive audit of the entire operations of the City Council. This is still ongoing, and one of the areas that we targeted was an HR audit to look at our processes at City Hall and exactly how many individuals we needed at City Hall to achieve those processes. We also looked at issues of performance, and who was really efficient in terms of carrying out the work. I looked at the files myself. I looked at the individuals we were talking about. This was a decision which came up from the management level; it came through the level of the City Council, and then it came to my desk in terms of making the final decisions as to how we proceeded. I then proceeded in the manner in which was announced, which is that - it's actually 22 persons who were terminated from the City Council."
"So it was necessary. Were there no other solutions?"
"Well, we had evaluated some of the way forward in terms of looking at how we would deal with this. The truth of the matter is that the City Council is a serious financial position. We need to increase our revenues yesterday, and we need to stream-line and cut our budget to ensure that we're able to deliver the kind of the services that residents of Belize City need. We are talking about employees - I remember seeing on one of the news yesterday evening, a person who was interviewed. That person was actually let go from the City Council 3 months ago. So, a lot of people are making noise about this particular issue, and this is understandably so. When you are dealing with employment and jobs, it's a serious thing because it touches people's lives. Everybody needs to earn a living. The truth of the matter though, is that if you hear from the other side in terms of having the information that I have in terms of the personnel file, performances issues, and the financial position of the City Council, you would feel that a lot of these decisions are very necessary. I don't expect that being in the office of Mayor, everything that we will do, will be popular and will get mass support. But I was elected to make serious and tough decisions, and to put the city back on a right footing in line with the mandate of the Prime Minister. We here to really strengthen economic development, and to give the people what they really want which is infrastructure. We've taken a decision not to rehire any person at the moment because I said that this decision was not a decision that we were just going to let people go. It's in line with an audit function, and it's in line really with management decisions, together with the Office of Mayor, seeing how we could make our functions more efficient. I don't know that we have let go any persons who were brought in by any particular person, in any particular department, or anything like that. We looked comprehensively at all our departments, and all departments had at least one person who made up this list of 22 persons. So, it wasn't concentrated to any particular person, or any particular group. It wasn't something that was done in any kind of victimization. It was purely an administrative and operational decision to ensure that we get people at City Hall who are very efficient in carrying out their functions. I looked at one of the cases, and the individual whose file it was had 36 disciplinary infractions. They were written up 36 times, and one of the suggestions before we took this decision was that we should put in place a system where we give people 3 warnings. And I thought to myself that if somebody is warned 36 times, how could you then put in place a decision like that? I mean that we are much beyond the issue of giving somebody 3 warnings. We're looking also at putting together a hiring policy, and fair disciplinary procedures. We're looking at having human resource manual and other things like that. So all of these decisions, when people in the public look at it, they may see that 22 people were let go, and it looks like an ad hoc thing, and something that somebody just came up. These are the processes and the results of planning and stream-lining the Government, which in in line with our manifesto."
According to Mayor Bradley, they are looking into audits of other departments to see what other processes at City Hall are non-performing.