UNC-led Sangre Grande council fires 12 workers

File photo: Local government councillor Martin 'Terry' Rondon.
File photo: Local government councillor Martin 'Terry' Rondon.

Long-serving PNM councillor for Toco/ Fishing Pond Terry Rondon is blaming the chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, Anil Juteram, for the UNC-led council's firing of 12 contract workers.

On Wednesday, at a special statutory meeting at the corporation’s Chamber Hall, six UNC council members voted to send home the short-term contract workers.

Those who voted for the decision were vice-chairman and councillor for Manzanilla/ Fishing Pond Kenwyn Phillip; councillor for Sangre Grande South Calvin Seecharan; councillor for Sangre Grande North West Nassar Hosein; councillor for Cumuto/Tamana Anil Maharaj; alderman Suzan Holder and alderman Keon Saroopsingh.

The five PNM members voted against the move, while Juteram abstained.
“I put the blame solely on the chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation. He abstained from the vote and, by abstaining, caused what happened there," Rondon told Newsday.

In this December 2019 file photo. former Sangre Grande Regional Corporation chairman Terry Rondon, seen at right shaking hands with his replacement, Anil Juteram. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

He said he was hurt by the decision and it was a sad day for the corporation. He was also disturbed that there was “lots of party intervention” in the corporation which was keeping it from making any progress.

He told Newsday the PNM would have an emergency meeting and he would make a statement about the situation on Thursday.
In an interview with TV6, Juteram described the decision as "heartless" and stressed that UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar did not sanction the action.

“Whatever is the repercussion I’m willing to pay for it, and I’m willing to speak in due course because I’m not going to be the fall guy for any instructions recklessly given to mislead the Sangre Grande Council to take that decision.”
He added that he was served with a pre-action protocol letter stating that the employees would take the corporation to the Industrial Court.

One source at the corporation further explained to Newsday that last month, the UNC-led council made a resolution to hire 12 people who were continuously employed with the corporation up to a ten-year period.

The source said thousands of people applied for the jobs of six clerical assistants, one project assistant, one janitor, one serviceman, one executive secretary/IT specialist, one local economic development (LED) officer, and one LED assistant.
After a week of interviews, the 12 were rehired and were expected to sign their contracts on Thursday.

“Upon knowledge of the persons who were being employed, the UNC councillors then made a decision and said, ‘We are now terminating all 12 employees’ contracts."
The source related that one councillor said he could not agree to the employees getting the jobs because the advertisement for the positions only ran for four days.

It was alleged that it was felt that eight UNC supporters should be among the 12 to be hired.
“The corporate secretary informed them it was illegal because to rescind the decision they must have a proper legal excuse as to why you’re rescinding it. For example, if the person was not interviewed or they don’t have the qualifications. Then they have a case,” said the source.
The source added that when the employees go home, they would not be able to work at, or even apply for a job at the corporation for the next six months.

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