GFC fires four over lunch-hour game of dominoes …staff claim unfairly dismissed

Four employees of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) who served the body for more than 10 years each, were fired on Thursday , one day after they were seen playing dominoes during their lunch hour while a minister visited the entity’s Water Street offices.

In letters seen by this publication , one of the employees ,a  mechanic who has been with the GFC for over 10 years, was told that he was being dismissed over a missing vehicle part which he failed to replace. The GFC said the missing part “is resulting in high cost overturn to the Commission.”

Another employee who worked at the workshop was not told why he was being dismissed; his termination letter only stated that his services were no longer required. Both letters were signed by Personnel Manager Sonya Reece.

But the staff members told this publication that there may be more to their sudden dismissal. The quartet alleged that on Wednesday last, Minister of Natural Resources , Vickram Bharrat visited the GFC office during the lunch hour and while he walked pass, they were engaged in a game dominoes. “The minister didn’t even had time with them, he just asked how they doing and said it is ok and after that they sit down back and continue playing,” a GFC told this publication.

A radio operator , who worked with the commission for more than two decades, was among the quartet sent home. Reports are that she retired from the body recently but was subsequently rehired. One of the dismissed employees told this publication that he is left with not much alternatives since he has a family to maintain and he depended on his salary at the GFC to offset his expenses.

This is not the first time such an incident has occurred. Under the previous administration , a visit by then subject minister Raphael Trotman caught staff off-guard and they all received warning for not acknowledging his presence.

Staff members complained that all is not well at the GFC at the moment , some noting that the body is experiencing serious financial issues mainly payments to staff, many of whom are paid their salaries in the following month. In addition , staff members complained that the environment is not friendly at Kingston; one referred to atmosphere as “petty@ and similar to a “boot camp.”

The GFC’s mandate includes the management and oversight of the forestry sector. It falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of Agriculture.