THE University of the Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) restructuring exercise that saw 59 lecturers fired remains on hold as negotiations between the university and their representing union continue.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia spoke with Newsday after UTT responded to attorney Jared Jagroo’s request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Garcia said the dismissal of the lecturers was due to redundancy at the Education Faculty. Other lecturers were being considered to be fired but the negotiations halted that.
The FOIA request was filed by Devant Maharaj. In response to Maharaj, UTT said their restructuring exercise was not completed and, therefore, could not give a report.
In May, Garcia called on UTT to desist from issuing any more dismissal letters until further notice. That was followed by UTT president Prof Sarim Al-Zubaidy issuing a statement confirming the request. He explained the UTT was operating under severe financial constraints and “management had to look closely at the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.”
Some of the things immediately done were a freeze on hiring new staff and all new appointments needed to be given board approval. An aggressive recruitment drive was to be developed and implemented and the review of the organisation structure of UTT was to be done. UTT also placed a freeze on all travel for lecturers. The structure of UTT changed from seven vice presidents to three as the management was reduced by 40 per cent
Al-Zubaidy said then that the first phase of the restructuring began in May with the separation of 59 members of its academic staff. He said the criteria used was based on the UTT’s current and future needs.