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Saturday 17 August 2019
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Women activists: Smith firing good first step

Rhoda Bharath
Rhoda Bharath

THE FIRING of Darryl Smith as minister in the Housing Ministry is a step in the right direction but is only a start and a Government policy on sexual harassment was needed, says former coordinator of the Network of NGOs of TT for the Advancement of Women Hazel Brown.

Smith came under fire after allegations of sexual harassment from his personal secretary which led to a settlement of $150,000 from the Sport Ministry for wrongful dismissal in the Industrial Court. On Monday it was announced that Smith was moved as sport and youth affairs minister to minister in the Housing Ministry and then yesterday the Office of the Prime Minister announced he had been fired following "new information."

Brown said his firing was the right thing to do but it needs to be built upon and Government needed to establish a government policy. She explained there should be a policy for State employees and then one a mandatory law for private sector to have policies in their organisations and for trade unions and private sector employees to follow.

"We must never give up and be hopeful things can change."

Brown said she supported women who were brave enough to stand up and speak up.

Co-founder of Powerful Ladies of Trinidad and Tobago (PLOTT) Gillian Wall said Smith's firing was definitely a step in the right direction but was merely a start. She pointed out the firing came one day after the Prime Minister's announcement of Cabinet reshuffle and Smith was reassigned as opposed to firing.

"We have to ask was the firing the Prime Minister second guessing yesterday's decision or was it in response to further public outcry to yesterday's announcement."

Activist Rhoda Bharath said the firing was a good move from the Prime Minister and she lauded not only the revocation of Smith's appointment but that there will be an actual investigation taking place so the public can have all the facts about the hiring, dismissal and settlement received by Smith's former personal secretary.

"It was a little long in coming but the manner in which it was handled shows a certain amount of responsibility and transparency and I cannot quibble with that."

Bharath said she was confused by the reshuffle including why Marlene McDonald, new Public Administration minister, was a Cabinet member.

"Far too many questions on how she conducts herself for the population to calmly accept her re-admittance to Cabinet."

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