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Tuesday 19 March 2019
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‘You’re fired!’

AATT suspends 5, dismisses 1 over security breach

ONE week before the Airports Authority of TT (AATT) suspended a security officer, following an exchange with two government ministers, they fired a security officer and suspended five others.

In a four page letter, dated November 9, AATT dismissed Kenneth Joseph for disclosing sensitive security information, and said they lost confidence in him as an employee.

The letter, signed by Domini Harewood, executive manager, strategic human resources, said the AATT was acting in accordance with Section 19 (2) of the Supplemental Police Act.

Joseph, branch vice president of the Estate Police Association (EPA) at Piarco International Airport, Kamichan Maharaj, Leslie Young, Joshua Wallace, Gary Hayes and Zezellin Thomas were all accused by the AATT of sharing security information during a press conference on August 28.

They were suspended in September with full pay following the outcome of an internal tribunal.

The AATT said they wrote to Joseph on September 1 and 10 about conducting a tribunal and he refused to respond. Joseph was also accused of insubordination and insolence after he, according to AATT, disregarded a written directive not to speak with the media. Joseph denied all charges.

The authority said it considered the serious negative effect of Joseph’s claim that the airports were insufficiently manned and ill-equipped.

AATT added that the international reputation of the airport was now in question with the International Civil Aviation Organisation which reached out to the TT Civil Aviation Authority.

“It cannot be gainsaid that in the current global security environment, persons with ill-intent may attempt to exploit the information you have disclosed (whether accurate or not) to attempt to commit serious criminal acts, including but not limited to drug trafficking and other crimes which may be deemed terrorist activities,” the AATT stated.

At the end of the tribunal, Joseph and the five others were all issued their letters revoking their appointments.

Joseph was dismissed with immediate effect while the others were suspended for six weeks without pay. The five are return to work on December 22.

In writing to Joseph, the AATT said the EPA is not a trade union and, therefore, he was not protected under the provisions of union representation.

The AATT said Joseph was not dismissed because he was a member of the EPA, and denied that he and any member were being victimised because of their role in the association.

While the EPA is not certified as a trade union, president of the association Deryck Richardson said it is the sole organisation authorised to represent estate police under the Supplemental Police Act.

The dismissal and suspensions preceded the suspension of Kelvon Alexander who, according to AATT, acted in a discourteous toward Foreign Affairs Minister Dennis Moses and Minister of Planning and Development Camille Robinson-Regis, also in September. Alexander was suspended for two weeks without pay and returned to work on Friday.

Alexander had stopped the ministers from leaving the airport through the duty free exit and told them they had to go through the customs exit.

The AATT said Alexander was right to deny the ministers access to the duty free exit but disciplined him for his behaviour after reviewing CCTV footage.

In 2009, two security officers, Jonathan Subero and Giselle Lewis, were dismissed after they allowed a colleague to go through the duty free exit to throw away garbage. The rubbish was searched before it was dumped.

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