Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) – Representation in the Workplace

Submitted by Roslyn Shepherd

March 16, 2020 marks the 4th anniversary of my suspension from the Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF). I had been its Administrative Manager for 16 years. During this period the SRLF improved its effectiveness and efficiency in all spheres of change, e.g., systems, culture, structure and processes. As a consequence, it collected $122 million in receipts, invested $10 million in Government paper, broadened its scope via amended Regulations and Act, and increased the number of approved loans plus staffing by approximately 400% and 40% respectively in 2016 over 2000.

Had the agency not been a $100 million asset based finance company, I would have accepted the move towards micro management where top management refused to hold meetings with me but held them behind my back with junior staff members. This was a dangerous practice. Sixteen years of constant change exercises whilst functioning as the entity’s head, Secretary to the Board, Personnel & Security Officer, Change Leader plus secretary had taken its toil. My emotions got the better of me and I spoke my mind. I was charged with undermining the Management Committee (MC).

Two years later, the MC laid its charges and sought to be both judge and jury. My representative pointed out the charges fell under the duties and responsibilities of the AM’s job description and more importantly could only be heard by an independent Committee/tribunal.

I was retired by the MC. They had the legal right according to the Court ruling in the Barbados Industrial Development Corporation (BIDC) case “In relation to the Board’s right to retire under the applicable provisions, the BIDC was well within its legal authority to exercise its discretion under Section 8(1), to compulsorily retire officers after the age of voluntary retirement; which is sixty (60) years old”.

Notice of my retirement by the MC was sent two (2) days after the the initial and only ‘hearing’. This action was clearly opposed to the Court ruling which said “although the BIDC had a right to exercise its discretion under Section 8(1), there was insufficient consultation and this entitled the claimants to an award of damages”.

I had an excellent labour representative who  even offered advice and guidance to the Chief Labour Officer (acting) regarding my appeal of the MC’s decision. Nine (9) months passed before the extremely helpful Deputy Labour Officer (acting) intervened and restarted the appeal process.

History records that it takes years to get fair representation and payout under Barbados Labour laws. The pettiness shown by the MC in deducting vacation pay from my summary vacation leave pay though I was on suspension reinforced the absence of fairness and justice. I was under financial constraint and accepted the system could impoverished or further sickened me before I received a payout. I was forced to sign a release not to sue the SRLF to trigger the release of my pension and gratuity. My continued reference to the BIDC ruling re damages was dismissed by the MC.

Subject to correction, the SRLF remains a self financing statutory body and one of the better run student lending bodies world wide. Nonetheless, its post 2016 financial and compliance audits have not removed the perception that I defrauded this entity. My reputation has been besmirched and I live the  reality of being undermined by the body corporate whose reputation I constantly protected.

If properly handled via communication, respect and fairness, conflict which is unavoidable in the work place can be resolved without undermining workers rights and sending a wrong message to the remaining workers. Victimization not only negatively impacts the victim but productivity and customer service as well.

I managed a hybrid company without immediate access to professional peers. My sole source for in depth discussion about the SRLF was the MC. The writing was therefore on the wall when this body refused to entertain discussion with me.

No one likes to exit their work place with a cloud hanging over their head. Though my exhaustion won out, the record of the SRLF’s performance during my tenure speaks for itself and the unfairness and injustice meted out to me needs to be corrected.

12 thoughts on “Student Revolving Loan Fund (SRLF) – Representation in the Workplace

  1. I do not know the merits of case outlined in the post..I will state one thing however, having persons in any position for an extended time is bad, period. After a while, the post seems to become the personal fiefdom of the occupier.

  2. “Nonetheless, its post 2016 financial and compliance audits”[quote]
    it must have been well run, because few statutory bodies in Barbados have been able to produce such reports over that time period.
    The author’s mistake. Just look to the NIS? Run it for umpteen years, fail to provide any kind of public reporting for 10+ years, and one gets a promotion. It is the lack of compliance, not compliance, which is rewarded.

  3. I am not sure what the hell was going on at the Student Revolving Loan Fund, but my Littlest Johnnie applied for a loan in 2016. Thirteen days before scheduled departure we had not yet got a response. Littlest Johnnie called and was told “no loan for you” We have not yet received a written response, nor any explanation from SRLF. My bigger Johnnie had received a loan from the SRLF in 2000. I was one of the co-signers. That loan was repaid in full and before the due date, so I still don’t know what is the beef SRLF had with my family.

    Treat we real-real scruffy den.

    Anyway Littlest Johnnie should graduate in June.

  4. Fiefdoms don’t promote growth and development; discussions and brainstorming do. In addition the constant and on going requirement for change prevents one from ever feeling on top of the heap. What is imperative however is to properly structure and staff organizations so that no one person has an unhealthy load.

    In addition, it’s always wise to schedule regular meeting with senior management where critical issues including perceptions can be discussed and resolved. History continues to show that collective perceptions can be very dangerous.

    Staff members at the SRLF are competent. Speaking as John Public, the onus is on the applicant to request a reason for non approval of a loan.

  5. @ Stanherd February 18, 2020 2:16 PM

    ” In addition the constant and on going requirement for change prevents one from ever feeling on top of the heap.”

    I am not sure that you perused the article carefully. Being in a position sixteen years cannot be said to qualify as ” Constant and on going Requirement for change.”

    • From what I understand it was sixteen years of change inclusive of the organizational structure via increased staffing; systems which I understand to be amended Act and regulations as well as organizational units; processes or the way the unit operated as well as organizational culture. Assuming there’s no similar organization, changes would have had to be created from scratch and justified to superiors whom I would think would have been hyper critical, especially since this organization would had have numerous stakeholders whose ire could bring pressure on operations. With all these variables it is unlikely this officer would have had time to build a fiefdom.

  6. @ Silly Woman February 18, 2020 4:43 PM

    I see that you have educated little johnnie and a big Johnnie . When you aren’t digging potatoes, you are eating pork chops ,helping nurses and at same time being a tourist. I must say you are very active. You will live a long time.

  7. @ David February 18, 2020 5:40 PM

    remember J. Edgar Hoover or for that matter the late Dr. Lionel Smith, Chief Agricultural Officer who spent nearly three decades in the post, during which time agriculture went rock-bottom and has not yet recovered. It is not a generalization. The same thing happens with political parties that have won government for long periods.

  8. Minister Santia Bradshaw has issued a warning- to whom much is given much is expected. Barbadians borrowing taxpayers money will have to give back to the country.

    Question from the blogmaster- was this not always the policy?

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