Governor, thank you for your response to my letter of 21 August.
As their Councillor, two employees of the Ascension Island Government recently brought their concerns to me about the treatment they received from their employer. Consequently, I brought these matters to your attention in a letter dated 21 August 2013, and a letter submitted on 8 August 2013 at a formal Council meeting because I believe that such treatment of the two employees will also have far reaching negative repercussions for other employees on Ascension.
Already, as a result of the treatment of the two employees by AIG, many constituents have voiced their concerns and fears of being penalised and victimised for exercising their constitutional human right of freedom of expression on Ascension. Employees are now convinced that the costs of exercising the right to freedom of speech and voicing one’s opinions and views could be the loss of one’s employment and livelihood.
Governor, these serious concerns and fears within the community must be addressed, and not simply shrugged off, ignored or denied; as, with respect, seems to be the case in your letter to me dated 23 September.
A precedent was set on Ascension many years ago by employers on Ascension to encourage employees to work towards having their contracts renewed. This precedent has been of significant importance to employers on Ascension as it ensures staff retention, the ability to retain a high skills and capability base, and maintain consistent reliability and essential long-term continuity and sustainability for their business interests. Therefore, if, in accordance with the well-established precedent, an employee has remained loyal to the employer and dedicated to their job, and the post is still required, that employee deserves a full written explanation from the employer if he or she is unable to secure a new contract.
If an employer has reason to take action against an employee on the grounds of conduct or capability then the employer should have proper responsible professional procedures in place and apply them accordingly. This should be done in the best interests of both the employer and the employee.
In my opinion, the Ascension Island Government have failed to treat employees fairly, and AIG officials are claiming their actions are within the law. The fact is there is no law to protect employees against this form of treatment and unfair dismissal.
The Ascension Island Government, one of the major employers on Ascension, should be setting an example on the fair treatment of employees. Instead, AIG is taking advantage of employees, refusing to renew contracts at will and without proper explanation, and blatantly doing so because the absence of law allows them to do so.
The 1926 Workmen’s Protection Ordinance must be modernised to provide employees with the appropriate protection against such unfair treatment.