TEN of the 16 workers at the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation are demanding that the council revoke a decision to terminate them and not to approve funding for their employment.
The council was given until noon on Wednesday to give the undertakings set out in a pre-action protocol letter sent on the workers’ behalf by attorney David-Mark Kidney on Monday.
The ten are also asking for the council to treat them as having been employed on April 1 and to be remunerated accordingly.
Newsday understands that a special statutory meeting of the council has been called for 9 am on Wednesday to discuss the pre-action protocol letter.
They have also accused the chairman of the corporation’s personnel committee, councillor for Sangre Grande North East Nassar Hosein, of defamation and have threatened to take legal action if he does not remove alleged defamatory posts from Facebook and apologise to them on Facebook for a duration of 14 days.
In the pre-action letter for defamation, Kidney said he considered the statements as “a malicious attack on my clients in an endeavour to sabotage and/or muddy their personal and/or professional credit and to disparage them in their respective professions.
“Further, you have attempted to maliciously attack my clients by chaining their interests to politics and not ascribing to them their fair recognition in relation to their qualifications and experience.”
In the pre-action letter to the corporation’s chairman, aldermen, councillors and electors, Kidney said his clients' employment was “summarily terminated without due cause” when the council, on March 31, less than two weeks after it approved financing for their employment, passed a motion to rescind the resolution to hire the ten.
The reasons given were that the council needed to be satisfied of the individuals’ performance; the positions they held were advertised only on Facebook for three days; and that a councillor “knew a person with (exam grades) twos and threes who did not receive a telephone call for an interview.”
Kidney said the council had in its possession his clients' performance appraisals, which were all positive, and that the chairman, Anil Juteram, had publicly said those hired were known to be good workers.
The ten – Stacy Ramroop, REL Kasmally, Shawn Samlal, Naseema Ali, Dimitri Bidaisee, Abigail Walcott, Onika Davis-Sambury, Elliot Collins, Aryanna Babb and Ralph Paul – have had their contracts with the corporation renewed continuously until March 31.
They have various qualifications ranging from an MBA to BScs in various disciplines to CXC passes and work experience.
The letter said in December 2020, when the issue of rehiring contract workers on merit, experience, qualifications and performance was raised and approvals sought for financing their salaries, several UNC loyalists refused to give their approval, asking for the positions to be advertised.
At a January 7 meeting, the chairman used his casting vote to break a tie when the UNC members refused to approve the finances and the workers were rehired on contract. The positions were advertised and on March 18, the corporation obtained approval from the council for financial approval for the positions.
The shortlisting and interviewing process began and all ten were successful and invited to interviews. On March 31, they were told their contracts would be renewed for a further six months and they were to resume work on April 1.
However, after being told this, they also received a letter on the same day saying a special statutory meeting had been held and the majority of council members voted to rescind the decision to hire short-term staff.
Kidney said the corporation’s corporate secretary advised against even raising the motion, since the contracts were already approved and they had been notified of their employment. She also advised the decision was illegal because no proper legal reason had been given for the rescission.
He said the function of the council was to determine and approve the expenditure of the corporation, including salaries, and was not responsible for the hiring of staff, which is the responsibility of the CEO.
“It is not a haphazard selection process nor is it obscure. This process has been used by the corporation for decades and is used and recommended according to best industrial relations practices.”
He also said the March 31 resolution was not passed with a two-thirds majority since only six of 12 members voted for rescission.