MASSIVE FIRING AT UTT BEGINS: UTT lecturers dismissed amidst Imbert’s bright forecast

Submitted by Fatimah Mohammed

About 40 lecturers from the Centre for Education Programmes at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) have been marked to be dismissed.

Eleven of them from the Corinth and Valsayn Campuses have already received their dismissal letter on Friday11th May 2018.

This dismissal came in the wake of Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s boast that the economy is turning around. In his mid-term budget review in Parliament on Thursday, Imbert sang the words of Johnny Nash, “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” What is actually gone is the dismissal of lectures at UTT.

Minister Imbert boasted in the mid-term budget review that the economy is turning around, revenue collection is up, the energy sector is booming and the non-oil sector is also growing. Most of the population however have not seen any tangible evidence of that turn around.

Those UTT lecturers whose services have been terminated in the first wave of firings so far are Rudrunath Singh, Omar Maraj, Aarti Persad, Balmatee Sukha, Kumar Mahabir, Solomon Ragnathsingh, Amanda Rambaran-Sookraj, Rhonda Dookwah, Carol La Chapelle, Joseph Sanchez and Patricia Bascombe-Fletcher.

The Head of the Centre, Dr Judy Rocke, distributed the termination letters at the Valsayn Campus at 2:30 p.m.  She disclosed that the decision was taken as part of a restructuring exercise and that the dismissed lecturers were sent home because of “redundancy.” Interestingly the termination letters were delivered almost in the middle of the semester when there are four (4) more teaching weeks. UTT has given the dismissed lecturers one week to vacate the premises

At the meeting, Rocke revealed that the first round of dismissals was based on lecturers who taught students who were graduating to teach at secondary schools. However, the lecturers believed that this criteria was contradictory and arbitrary because some of the secondary school specialisation lecturers were not dismissed. Moreover, some lecturers who do not teach that specialisation were sent home yesterday. Rocke also disclosed that she kept some of these specialisation lecturers because they were close to the retirement age of 70.

As a means of cutting cost, it was suggested that UTT should dissolve some of its programmes such as Carnival Studies, Criminology and Marine Sciences which are already being offered by UWI. Moreover, the appointment of the president, Professor Sarim N. Al-Zubaidy, should be revoked. He is a foreigner from the Middle East who is reported to be paid TT$240,000 per month in US currency.

The sacked lecturers intend to meet with attorney Anand Ramlogan soon to take this matter to court. They want clarification on two issues: (1) what criteria was used for dismissal, and (2) was this criteria used across the board.