Labour Minister Melvin ‘Mitch’ Turnbull said he was unaware of allegations of mismanagement, abuse of office, and conflict of interest that have been levelled against him since being appointed as minister a few months ago.
At a recent press conference, Turnbull was asked about his response to those claims, but the Minister appeared flabbergasted when he understood that the allegations were levelled at him, and were not actually about other officials within the Labour Department.
“Accusation towards me, I don’t understand… Regarding what, specifically?” Turnbull asked. “I can’t help you because I have no clue what you’re speaking about.”
When asked if he had any comment at all to offer on the allegations, Turnbull reiterated that he was ignorant of the basis of the allegations.
“No, I have no clue what you’re talking about. I have no conflict, no nothing. I’m going to simply do what is required to fix the Labour Department but I have no understanding of anything that you’re saying right now,” he said.
Since entering office, the Minister has repeatedly promised that there will be shake-ups in the way things are being done, particularly within the Labour Department and questions were raised about whether he sent the substantive Labour Commissioner, Michelle McLean on leave.
But Turnbull refuted this suggestion, noting that he had no power to do so and advising that the post was a constitutional one under the remit of the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Deputy Governor.
“What I am doing now in the interim while Mrs McLean went on leave and didn’t appoint an acting Commissioner or somebody to act in her stead, I am just simply trying to ensure that we are doing what is right and legal according to the Virgin Islands
Labor Code of 2010,” Turnbull said.
Turnbull further stated that his Ministry is hoping to address some of the issues that have been identified in the public that he is aware of.
“So while I have the responsibility to do that, I’m going to work with the persons there to address the issues, to address the concerns so that we can move the Labour Department forward and hopefully be able to transition the conversation from it being what is deemed now the ‘worst department’ within the government system to one that is being progressive and addressing the needs of the community and helping to employ those persons within the workforce,” Turnbull added.