JOB cuts and the closure of several campuses of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) are moving full pace ahead. Education Minister Anthony Garcia speaking in the Senate said as far as he was aware no such decision was taken and that any such claims were “merely speculation”.
However, a member of the academic staff at the UTT, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the university’s President Sarin Al Zubaidy met individually with the academic staff to apprise them of what was taking place.
The source said lecturers were told that on completion of “staff rationalisation” (terminating members of both academic and administrative staff), the facilities rationalisation will commence and this will involve closure and disposal of some facilities.
The source said Al Zubaidy expressed hope that the facilities rationalisation would be the final phase of the restructuring and it will bring revenue in alignment with expenditure. The UTT source said the president is hoping to wrap up the negotiations with the union (OWTU) representing administrative staff, in a matter of weeks, so the university’s management can focus on the campuses.
As to which campuses are likely to remain open, the UTT source told Newsday the plan is to keep the Tamana facility as the flagship campus along with the Energy campus in Point Lisas and, “one or two others.” The source said a buyer is waiting to purchase the building which houses the John Donaldson campus off Wrightson Road in Port of Spain.
With more dismissals looming at the UTT, the battle to save jobs has now widened to include the Unified Tertiary Tutors Academic Staff Association, UTASA. Two other unions, Sanctuary Workers Union (SWU) headed by former government minister Devant Maharaj and the OWTU are also representing the interests of staff.
UTASA secretary Deo Seeram said the association represents over 100 members of the academic staff.
On May 11 , UTT began issuing dismissal letters and to date, 59 lecturers have been sent home. Eleven dismissed members of academic staff are being represented by the SWU.