Government still in negotiation phases regarding retrenchment of university staff

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Jan 22, CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government Monday said discussions were still taking place with regards to the retrenchment of staff at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) with the union indicating that more than 400 employees could be sent home.
Education Minister Anthony Garcia said the UTT had conducted an internal audit and found that the institution, which began operations here in 2003 was overstaffed.
“It is overstaffed according to the audit by 287 persons. The University of Trinidad and Tobago is trying its best to rationalise its operations and discussions are now being held with the union to determine how best we can come to an amicable solution,” Garcia said.
Speaking on a radio programme here, he said he has been convening meetings wi9th the university and the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) “and as soon as all the information has been received, I will convene another meeting”.
But OWTU general secretary, Richard lee, said contrary to figure regarding the number of workers likely to be dismissed, his union believes more than 400 workers will be terminated.
He said in correspondence dated January 11, this year, the authorities had indicated “that in the first instance …it will save TT$41.7 million (One Tt dollar=US$0.16 cents) and they went on to say another round of retrenchment will bring a total of TT$70 million which means to say more than 200 more workers will go home giving a total of more than 400 workers.”
Lee said that the UTT management had been outsourced when there was no need to do so and that thousands of dollars could have been saved.
“We have a president who is not from Trinidad and Tobago…why did we have to bring in someone when we are sure we have competent people here. So in that respect you look at what perks and benefits he getting.
“Two, the managerial staff what perks and benefits are they getting<’ he said, noting they could be reduced in order to save costs.
“Yes it will not be enough and yes they may propose restructuring. But in essence the union is always against sending home workers and we must find some common ground where we will first make some proposals and ….we have asked the university for an extension of time….”.
Former tertiary education Minister Fazal Karim said that the decision to retrench workers could “compromise the quality of teaching and learning and administration at the university”.
The Trinidad and Tobago government has complained in the past that the reduction of revenue as a result of a drop in the price of energy products on the global market, is causing it to implement several tight belting measures and Garcia said the Keith Rowley government is also looking at ireducing staff at the College of Science, Technology, and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTAATT).

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