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UTT boss gets ultimatum... dismissed workers ready for cou

Published: 
Friday, May 18, 2018
Retrenched UTT assistant professor, Dr Rhonda Dookwah, outside Ministry of Education’s Port-of-Spain office on Wednesday PICTURE NICOLE DRAYTON

University of T&T president Sarim Al Zubaidy has been given a deadline of 3 pm today (Friday) to respond to the trade union representing the retrenched lecturers of the university’s Centre for Education Programme (CEP) or “face the courts.”

In a letter dated yesterday to Al-Zubaidy, Sanctuary Trade Union head Devant Maharaj also renewed the call to have the dismissal letters revoked, immediately reinstate them, award damages and legal costs incurred and cease any action aimed at the dismissal of employees pending discussion with the employees and their trade union representatives.

The letter said Al Zubaidy’s actions had resulted in “extreme hardship upon the dismissed employees.”

“It is incomprehensible how persons of a reputable organisation like the UTT can be fully aware of their employees’ plight and yet still adopt the cold-hearted position that they are continuing with termination.

Social conscience dictates that the employees ought to be reinstated in their respective teaching positions,” Maharaj said in the letter.

The letter said should Al Zubaidy fail to take the necessary steps and/or fail to respond favourably by 3 pm today, the affected employees will resort to the courts to enforce their rights against UTT. Maharaj claimed the retrenched employees said they were blindsided, as no indication was given to them that dismissals would have started last Friday.

The dismissed workers continued their silent protest for a second consecutive day yesterday but were still not met by any Government Minister on the issue.

On Wednesday, the retrenched lecturers held their first protest outside the Education Ministry’s St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain head office. They claimed that Minister Anthony Garcia refused to meet with them.

Yesterday they started off their day outside of the Office of the Prime Minister in St Clair at 8 am. They then shifted to outside the Diplomatic Centre and official residence of the Prime Minister in St Ann’s, after they got wind that a Cabinet meeting was underway.

However, the group left disappointed shortly after 3 pm when no feedback was given as to what transpired in the meeting, although Garcia said he would have discussed the issue with his colleagues.

Meanwhile, in an open letter to UTT’s programme head for CEP, Dr Judy Rocke, the dismissed workers said they were given no indication at their last meeting that dismissals would start on May 11. They also asked how many more dismissals were planned. The letter also questioned the criteria given for selecting persons for retrenchment.

The letter stated that the dismissed lecturers have been blocked from UTT communication apparatus and some students still have to get coursework feedback. “How are these student issues to be sorted out?” the letter stated.

Meanwhile, a group of students who went to Corinth on Wednesday for Science and Math classes allegedly had no lecturer. This situation, the T&T Guardian was told, has been occurring since Monday. The students claimed no one contacted them about changes in their courses or instructors.

Attempts to contact Rocke and Al-Zubaidy for comment yesterday were unsuccessful as calls went unanswered.

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