JULIEN NEAVES and Marlene Augustine
THE University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) will dismiss 287 non-academic staff as part of its restructuring process, Education Minister Anthony Garcia said yesterday.
He said this while responding to an urgent question in the Senate from Opposition Senator Wade Mark.
Garcia said according to information from UTT, it plans to dismiss 59 academic staff (57 of whom had already received dismissal letters) and 287 non-academic staff.
Asked if the UTT provided information as requested by the union on the retrenchment, Garcia said he facilitated three meetings between the union and UTT in an effort to bring the parties together and at the last meeting, the union requested additional information. “The UTT is now treating with that information and I have been assured that in the not-so-distant future that information will be relayed to the union.”
Mark asked whether UTT had informed the Labour Ministry about the retrenchment.
Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus responded that UTT officials told her that academic staff was not deemed “workers” under the act, whose retrenchment would have required reporting.
On assisting the employees, she said, through the National Employment Service, employers register with the ministry and unemployed or retrenched people were invited to register also.
DEVANT WRITES MINISTRY
Also yesterday, former PP minister Devant Maharaj filed a formal trade dispute with Baptiste-Primus over the UTT’s alleged refusal to meet with his Sanctuary Workers Union (SWU). Maharaj said that under the Industrial Relations Act, the SWU complained about the “wrongful dismissals” and the failure/refusal of the UTT to meet with the union and lecturers, to address the issue.
He said the minister now has 14 days to respond to the union.
Karim said the staff would have been redeployed within the university.
“We would have been able to continue the expansion not only to TT, but in Guyana. They have their own university, why not UTT together with the university in Guyana?”
Karim strongly condemned the indiscriminate dismissal of staff at the university, many of whom continue to be traumatised and did not know where their next meal was coming from.
He said from an institution that boasted of jumping 500 points in global university rankings, it was dismaying to see what is taking place at UTT, and questioned its future.
“It might surprise you to know that some of the names that were associated with the UTT were getting approximately US$16,000 a month. For what?
“The reason they give is that they were improving the brand of UTT, but what has caused us to be in this position today,” he asked.
“The UTT has removed $323 million from its unspent balances to a project in the O’Meara campus to Tamana which is costing taxpayers $2 billion, which is far from completed,” Karim said.
The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) will be dismissing 287 non-academic staff as part of its restructuring process, reported Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
He was responding to an urgent question in Senate on Monday from Opposition Senator Wade Mark on how many people were expected to be retrenched by the UTT.
Garcia said according to information from UTT the university planned to dismiss 59 academic staff, 57 of which had already received dismissal letters. He said 287 non-academic staff were expected to be dismissed.
He reported discussions were still ongoing between the Oilfield Workers' Trade Union (OWTU) and the UTT.
Mark asked if the UTT had provided information as requested by the union on the retrenchment on the 287 non-academic staff. Garcia responded that as part of the negotiation process the union had requested certain bits of information which had been provided by UTT. He said he had facilitated three meetings between the union and UTT in an effort to bring both parties together and at the last meeting the union requested some additional bits of information.
"The UTT is now treating with that information and I have been assured that in the not so distant future that information will be relayed to the union."
Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste-Primus said through the National Employment Service employers register with the ministry and unemployed or retrenched people were invited to register with the ministry.
"We invite those who have been retrenched to visit the offices of the Ministry of Labour and they will be given the necessary assistance and guidance where possible."