Petrojam HR manager defends her reputation

BY ALPHEA SAUNDERS
Senior staff reporter
saundersa@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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PETROJAM'S Human Resources Manager Yolande Ramharrack, whose name has been embroiled in allegations of nepotism at the State-owned oil refinery, yesterday took a firm stance before the Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) as she continued to defend her reputation.

Ramharrack's academic qualifications for the post had been questioned at several sittings of the PAAC, and became a topic of public discussion since the Petrojam controversy started some weeks ago.

“I do know that this is going to be front-page news tomorrow,” Ramharrack commented as she responded to a series of questions directed at her by PAAC Opposition member Fitz Jackson at yesterday's meeting at Gordon House, which was also attended by a team from National Energy Solutions Limited and the Universal Service Fund, whose personnel and operations have also come under fire.

The HR manager suggested that persons commenting on the circumstances surrounding employment at Petrojam, which has been under a cloud of scepticism, have not been fully apprised of the facts.

“No way did I demand an increase in salary, no way did I thwart the process at Petrojam, no way that I am incompetent as executing the role as HR manager as persons would want to believe. I am competent in all the HR service delivery areas…and I am a little disappointed persons are speaking on my behalf without knowing the facts,” she stated, after Jackson read from the report submitted to the committee. The report indicated that the manager had taken steps on March 24 to have her salary adjusted from $10.5 million per annum to $13.04 million, just over 30 days after having been employed to the position.

He pointed out that the report stated that a salary increase was granted within just over a month, paid retroactive to the start date of employment, and that it was based on the demands made by the HR manager, as well as the heavy international relations component of her portfolio.

“I read what was provided by the company, so you are disputing what is here?” Jackson insisted, to which Ramharrack stated: “I am only saying and cautioning that whatever is presented here not all the time persons have the knowledge of what is presented, and if it is that I am somebody who is going to be made a public mockery at least I must have a say on what is presented here.”

The HR manager was adamant that due process was followed and that she was not aware of any anomalies, outside of the established process.

Jackson said the committee needed clarification on what those processes are as questions were raised about the notice period for the advertising of such senior position being only one week. “That is very striking,” he remarked. Also, he noted that for the employment package for the incumbent to be changed in a little over a month was also unusual.

“Those are not normal things that happen in employment, and as a human resource specialist, you would attest that these are not the norm,” the MP said.

According to Ramharrack, she applied for the position on January 4, 2017 after seeing the post advertised on January 1, and was engaged by Petrojam a month-and-a-half later. The HR manager told the committee that best practice dictates that the probationary period should range from three to four months and that persons should be assessed each month, up until confirmation. “I'm not saying that that was followed at Petrojam,” she remarked, noting that in her case an assessment was conducted by the former general manager Floyd Grindley.

“All managers report to the general manager,” she stressed.

She further noted that she started the job with an offer that was to be revised after her probation of three to four months was completed. Acting General Manager at Petrojam Telroy Morgan confirmed that the arrangement was contained in Ramharrack's offer letter of January 30, 2017 where the parties had agreed on the terms of engagement.

The previous HR manager, Rosalee Scott was terminated on December 23, 2016.

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