ILP candidate collecting PTSC $$ but never at work
Mark Bassant CCN Senior Multimedia Investigative Journalist
FOR the last year and a half Independent Liberal Party (ILP) candidate Judy Hart, who is contesting the Manahambre/Reform seat in the Princes Town Regional Corporation, has been employed by the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC). She collects a salary of $5,000 after taxes.
The only problem is that Hart has hardly been to the job.
Senior PTSC sources informed Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) in its investigation that Hart was hired in July 2012 at the San Fernando compound as a property protection officer. “This entails ensuring safety of passengers on the buses and ensuring the PTSC compound is safe,” said a senior source.
But since taking up the job, Hart has claimed her duties as a county councillor for the Princes Town Regional Corporation take precedence over her full-time job at PTSC.
Official correspondence obtained by CCN shows that in March of this year her superior, Harrylal Samlal, wrote to PTSC management, indicating his “grave concern” over Hart’s inability to attend work on a regular basis.
Samlal said he had asked Hart to support her claims of working as a county councillor, stating, “to this effect I have requested from this officer written documentation of this. I have not received any such document from the relevant corporation”.
In his letter, Samlal said Hart “would absent herself for most part of the week and sometimes for the entire week under the pretext of council duties”.
Hart’s attendance record, which CCN obtained, shows that for the month of July last year she was absent six days; August, eight days; September, nine days; and it jumped to 19 days in October; 15 days in November; and 17 days in December.
Senior PTSC sources say Hart still obtained her full salary for these months.
She had claimed to have undergone recent surgery when she started the job in July 2012 but, according to her superiors, she never brought in a medical certificate to substantiate this.
At the beginning of 2013, Hart’s absenteeism grew glaringly wayward. She failed to turn up for work 21 days in January, and 15 days in February, prompting Samlal’s report in March.
According to a collated total from July last year to the end of February this year, Hart was absent a total of 110 days from the job, but was still paid in full, according to senior PTSC sources.
Following Samlal’s complaint to management, two days later, on March 3, security service manager of PTSC Michael Jackson wrote to deputy general manager of operations Brian Juanette about Hart’s case.
Jackson indicated Hart’s frequent absenteeism “did not include time off, sick leave and vacation leave as these had been dealt with separately and is exclusive to absent from duty without leave.”
In his one-page letter which CCN obtained, Jackson said the corporation had no medical certificate on file, as is required by the organisation to support Hart’s claim she had recently undergone surgery.
Jackson stated: “It must be further noted that the frequency in which Ms Hart absents herself from duty is mind-boggling, this tends to suggest that Ms Hart is juggling two jobs and she may be using PTSC as a part-time job.”
He further added that, “Based on information and evidence gleaned from this report, it is reasonable to say that Ms Hart is employed at the Princes Town Regional Corporation and PTSC at the same time. As a result there is a conflict.”
In conclusion, Jackson suggested Hart’s services be terminated immediately based on her attendance record.
Juanette said he made a recommendation to the human resources (HR) department that Hart be terminated since March.
“But all they can do is make the recommendation. I can’t terminate her. That is up to the HR department,” explained Juanette in a telephone interview.
Almost seven months after the complaint was filed against Hart, she remains employed at PTSC. Senior sources say the same trend continues with Hart hardly showing up for work from March to October of this year, prompting senior management to again put their concerns to HR, but still there has been no action.
“This woman is earning a salary and is hardly ever at the job for almost a year and a half, and no one sees it fit to terminate her services? Clearly the system is being abused and there are a lot of things not right about that and many other situations inside here,” said a senior PTSC source.
CCN contacted Judy Hart on Monday and she agreed to speak with us face-to-face on Tuesday.
Judy Hart: “I hear you have been asking about me.”
Mark Bassant: Well there have been allegations concerning your employment at PTSC and we would like to give you a fair chance to respond and get your side of the story, so what time is good to meet?
About 10 - 11 a.m.? How about 10.30 a.m.?
JH: Ok, 10.30 a.m. sounds fine, we can meet at my office at Harmony Hall Third Street.
MB: Ok, I will see you tomorrow.
But an hour before the planned meeting, Hart text-messaged CCN and said she was unable to attend the meeting because of an urgent ILP meeting.
CCN immediately contacted her on the telephone. “I don’t think I have time for the rest of this week. I am busy,” Hart said.
In response to questions, she admitted to being currently employed at PTSC.
The allegations contained in the PTSC documents about her juggling two jobs and regular absenteeism were posed to her.
Hart responded, “Why don’t you ask the people who gave you the documents? I have an important meeting to attend now and I will call you back later.”
Hart never called back, and CCN tried calling and texting her further questions, but she never responded.
In the last few weeks, some ILP candidates have been in the media spotlight on criminal charges or are the subject of ongoing investigations.