By J. Brock (FINN)
A public meeting was held in the court and Assembly Chamber of the town hall at 1700hrs on Monday, 18 august 2014. Present were The Hon Mr roger Edwards, MLA, the Hon Mr Mike Summers, MLA, the Hon Mrs Jan Cheek, MLA, the Hon Mrs Phyl Rendell, MLA, the Hon Mr Michael Poole, MLA, and the Hon Gavin Short, MLA. Dr the Hon Barry Elsby and the Hon Mr Ian Hansen did not attend.
Phil Middleton added that the other thing striking him with the privatisation issue was it made sense to take people already doing the job and who have cross-over experience to continue with employment under new management. His understanding is that this is not allowed in that anyone leaving FIG employment they are disbarred from taking up similar employment for a number of months. He further believes for confidentiality reasons, they are further barred from taking any active part in a similar job situation for three years.
Mike Summers didn’t think that would be right. It could be approached in two separate ways in that in terms of a privatisation – bearing in mind there is a poor sitting of law in this area in the Falklands – in the UK, for about four decades there have been transfer of undertakings obligations so if you take over an existing organisation you have responsibilities to people who already work there. That doesn’t apply here and it never has been applied though it has been discussed.. so when something is privatised there is no obligation for the person taking over that function to employ any or all of the people who previously worked there. In terms of being debarred, Unless you can come up with an example it might be difficult because you might be talking about an individual – I am not aware of anybody leaving the Government or in certain specific areas is debarred from being employed in similar areas for themselves. Any number of people have left the Government and gone into employment on their own behalf in the same area of business. There is no restriction for that.
JC: In some cases there may be contracts that are specific where someone is working in a particularly sensitive area.
PM: But if you take something obvious like fisheries – if someone is working in the Fisheries Department and they leave Government to set up their own business within the fisheries, it could be seen that they are taking insider information from the Department across to set up their own business.
You are getting into very difficult areas in that. I mean, if you use information gained as an employee to gain some unfair advantage there may be some issues there but I am not sure it is written in Government’s management code in any way. You used quite an interesting example as there may be other examples in other areas. My son-in law left the power station and became an electrician and all sorts of other people have done all sorts of different things.
You may be right in suggesting that it may be inappropriate for the Director of Fisheries to set up a business doing something in the fishery where he was previously engaged in providing advice to the Government on that. But that would have to be dealt with by contract rather than as a general rule.
PR: I think Phil has a point in that there are certain positions in the Government where you are debarred for some years from becoming involved because you’ve got inside information but not at the general level of employment but certainly at the Director level. I don’t think it goes further than that.
Ronnie McLennan-Baird said that in some sections of the Management Code you have to get the Chief Executive’s permission and he will decide whether or not there was unfair advantage. He didn’t know how universal this is but in certain areas there was a requirement to ask the Chief Executive’s permission.
Mike Summers felt this could only be implemented through a contractual arrangement. And Jan Cheek added this would only be for a limited period. It would be unjustifiable for a prolonged period because whatever crucial information someone may be party to would soon be out of date.
Ronnie McLennan-Baird asked for opinions about how the Post Office privatisation was going so far and the general consensus was it was doing very well.
Phyl Rendell reminded everyone that the portfolio holder, was not here.