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Sunday 22 September 2019
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OWTU: 199 UTT employees to lose jobs

Ancel Roget
Ancel Roget

OWTU president general Ancel Roget has said 199 University of TT (UTT) employees will be retrenched next week. He was addressing an emergency media conference at the entrance of UTT’s San Fernando campus yesterday. Comparing the retrenchment to what occurred at state-owned oil company Petrotrin last November, he said this seems to be the chief economic strategy of the ruling PNM.“Some 199 workers are listed to be sent home next week at UTT. They are going to send them home, if they are allowed to, and with the support of the government, certainly with the support of the ministers of finance and education. And that is the government’s economic model for running this country: send workers home.”He said the union had been told about the retrenchment plan at a recent meeting with UTT officials and that this number represented only some of the planned retrenchments at the university.“This is the first wave of major retrenchment in UTT and the people who are going to be impacted, going to be sent home, are not the top management, not the corporate staff, but people who are within the bargaining unit represented by the union.”He said these were non-academic staff such as administrative, IT, technical staff, engineering and maintenance workers.“When that occurs next week, if it is allowed to occur, what this means that in this holiday period, these workers would not be able to provide for their children to go to school."He said the government "can find money to retrench workers but they cannot find money to pay workers or to keep workers active.”

He said the union had a similar experience before the government left the oil and gas sector.“The process of consultation, like the process of consultation in the other entity with respect to sending workers home – I am referring to Petrotrin – they have abandoned that with a willingness and intent to send home workers, and they are picking and choosing the people they are sending home.”He said the union had identified a number of vacancies which could be filled with qualified workers, saying this would reduce the number who would be retrenched.“During the discussions we would have identified a number of vacancies at UTT, but their plan is to cut staff across the board while continuing to pay consultants huge sums of money.”He said one consultant was paid $3,000 an hour.Roget declined to say what action the union would take to prevent the mass retrenchment, except that it was calling on government to intervene in the situation.“This government has the unenviable distinction of sending home the most amount of workers in the shortest possible time and that is their legacy."There is an answer to all of this, but this morning is not the time for that answer. Ours is the call to the government to let good sense prevail, direct the university’s management, get your Minister of Education back in the discussions so that we can get some humanity and sense to what they call restructuring, which is really about sending workers home.”

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