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Tribunal Rules in Favour of Teacher

Tribunal Rules in Favour of Teacher
February 03
11:00 2017

A school teacher has won an appeal against the Ministry of Education’s decision not to promote him to head teacher.

Chief Tribunal of the Employment Relations Tribunal, Sainivalati Kuruduadua, has ordered that Naseem Ali be promoted as head teacher of Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School of Lautoka.

He has also ordered that Mr Ali be paid the difference in salaries as from October 6, 2015.

Mr Kuruduadua said: “From the facts and evidence in this case, the Employment Relations Tribunal makes the determination that the grievor (Mr Ali) has made out a case being disadvantaged by the discriminatory action of the ministry, resulting in his losing out on the post of head teacher of Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School, Lautoka.”

Mr Ali claimed that the ministry failed to give due consideration to his qualification, experience and proven capacity to appoint him to the position which was advertised.

When he was informed through email dated 13/11/15 that his application was unsuccessful, Mr Ali wrote an appeal letter to the ministry. That letter has not been replied to.

Mr Ali then reported an employment grievance on the grounds of discrimination.

He explained that the ministry adopted the automated matrix system in place of the interview process and this was a subjective process not revealed in the advertisement.

The matrix system was designed by the ministry and could easily be manipulated. The Permanent Secretary provided an affidavit to oppose the position taken by Mr Ali.

In 2015, he authorised a list of positions vacant in various schools including Ahmadiyya Muslim Primary School in Lautoka to be advertised in the Fiji Sun.

One such position was head teacher.

The ministry received 50 applications which were tabulated and arranged by scores by the members of the Post Processing Unit (PPU) using a standard teaching recruitment matrix based on qualification and merits.

The matrix were tabled before the Appointment Board of the ministry. The board is chaired by the Permanent Secretary.

The Permanent Secretary contended that Mr Ali had failed to produce any documentation to substantiate his discrimination claim.

He revealed that the ministry had never held interviews for its teachers in its history of recruitment and will not be holding interviews because of the strain on its available limited resources.

He said it was not feasible to hold interviews for all positions in pool recruitments because of the high number of applicants. He said the prerogative to assess candidates and set criteria for selection lay with him as Permanent Secretary.

But Mr Kuruduadua said the Tribunal agreed with Ali’s position based on the facts and evidence.

He said the ministry failed to award maximum points and when questioned during the hearing, the witnesses misled the Tribunal and were on the verge of committing perjury.

Mr Kuruduadua said: “I do not have anything against the matrix system but when a manager using it deliberately distorts data and information, the traditional open interview is the only way to go.”

Mr Ali was represented by Damodaran Nair, a final year law student of the University of Fiji.

Releshni Karan, a legal officer, represented the ministry.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: jessica.gounder@fijisun.com.fj

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