Saying the truth will prevail, Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) head Michael Annisette yesterday refuted sexual harassment allegations before Parliament’s Joint Select Committee (JSC) probing the sea-bridge, in Tower D, Port-of-Spain.
Moruga MP Dr Lovell Francis said workers are alleging “serious abuses” by a SWWTU-owned firm that cleans and caters on the inter-island ferries.
Annisette said sex-for-work claims about the company were once told to Tobago House of Assembly (THA) former head Orville London, but whom had profusely apologized to him upon learning this was untrue.
Annisette said, “People will say anything in Trinidad when they can’t get their own way. That’s part of life, and I was warned about that, but I have a responsibility as President of the union.
“I live a certain lifestyle. I have 12 children, 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.”
Francis pressed, “We have testimony, Mr Annisette that says you have been a perpetrator of unwanted sexual advances from a number of female workers.”
Annisette replied, “That was told to Mr London too and when the facts were cleared he apologized to me profusely.” He said persons who aren’t hired falsely allege that those hired “are with the boss.”
“There is Somebody up there who is greater than all of us, the Seer and Knower of everything, and I leave that in His hands. That will never bother me because I can sleep easily at night.”
Toco/Sangre Grande MP Glenda Jennings-Smith asked about reports of his firm not paying maternity benefit, adding, “Do you have something against women employees?”
Annisette replied by referring to the JSC’s previous sitting on the sea-bridge.
“I listened to you when you were questioning a young lady, and I was disappointed. Disappointed because I respected you and I know that you are a mother and I am a father and the question that you asked that young lady was whether or not you and Mr Annisette had a personal relationship, which I though had no bearing here.”
He related the union’s good works such as settling workers claims, paying medical care for workers, building houses for members at Valsayn and buying schoolbooks for youngsters. “No amount of sexual harassment talk could debase that.”