Patunvanu at VNPF yesterday enquiring if Mr. Achary was still in the office

Jeff Patunvanu, the Secretary
 General (SG) of the Nagriamel Movement, has urged the General Manager (GM) of the Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF), Parmod Achary, to humbly resign from his position.

This appeal comes in response to a statement made by the Minister of Finance, John Salong, who revealed that GM Achary has indicated he will not resign until the court process is concluded.

The SG believes it would be in the best interest of the VNPF board to reinstate the staff members who have been terminated or resigned due to Achary’s misconduct in the workplace.

Patunvanu, who wrote a warning letter to Achary in 2022, condemning his plan to create the VNPF Insurance Scheme, said some female victims had no choice but to resign due to the repeated inappropriate behavior they experienced.

He commended the former VNPF staff for their bravery in submitting their complaints to the police, which ultimately led to Achary being found guilty by Vanuatu’s Supreme Court on charges of Indecency without Consent and breach of the Leadership Code.

In addition to urging Achary’s resignation, Patunvanu called on the VNPF board to make fair decisions while waiting for Achary’s sentencing hearing on August 2, 2023. He emphasised that Achary should not be entertained at the VNPF office during this time. Patunvanu expressed his disappointment that Achary was seen at his office on Monday, considering it a lack of respect towards his victims and the court’s findings. He suggested that if the board continues to allow Achary to remain in the office, they should reinstate the victims to ensure fairness.

Patunvanu claimed to have knowledge of other female staff members who allegedly experienced sexual harassment by Achary but were afraid to report it due to concerns about their job security.

The Daily Post heard outside the courtroom last Friday that there were additional female staff members who claimed to have been sexually harassed by Mr. Parmod, but chose not to report him due to concerns about their job security. During the court proceedings, prosecution witnesses revealed the existence of two distinct groups among the VNPF staff — those who are pro-Achary and those who are anti-Achary.

Additionally, there are two female staff members who served as witnesses for the prosecution, but are still employed by the VNPF because of court restraining orders. The court also heard that these witnesses did not utilise the VNPF disciplinary process due to concerns regarding their job security.

The Vanuatu National Workers Union head office in Port Vila acknowledged the presence of sexual harassment allegations in both public and private sectors. They urged Achary to take his case to the Court of Appeal to set a precedent for protecting workers in their workplaces.

The Vanuatu Women’s Centre previously emphasised that victims should not fear reporting sexual harassment, as it should never be tolerated.

They noted that victims often worry about the impact on their job security, working conditions, and benefits, but it is crucial to remember that their well-being should be prioritised.

The calls for Achary’s resignation, reinstatement of victims, and the importance of addressing sexual harassment in the workplace underline the need for a safe and respectful environment for all employees.