UTT staff protest again

Christmas in August

In the second consecutive day of protest action by some members of staff at the University of T&T (UTT), the Minister of Education, Anthony Garcia, has agreed to meet with the representing union and UTT officials.

The meeting was confirmed shortly after protest action at UTT’s campus— John Donaldson, at Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain. Having a list in hand of 287 names of workers to be retrenched from the academic and non-academic fronts, UTT’s protesting staff demanded answers even in the latest turn of events which claims that UTT has a new strategy.

Speaking with the T&T Guardian yesterday, OWTU’s second vice president, Sati-Gajadhar Inniss said that staffers are attempting to rally support, “as it pertains to their tenure of employment…they are really scared and yes, we do have a list but we need more information.” “One of the major questions to be answered is how UTT is going to operate? Just by saying you sending home 287 workers is not the answer. In fact, no worker should go home until proper discussions take place as to what is the strategic plan for the university as this point in time,” she added. Inniss said that the order of the union’s business is to “ensure that the institution continues to be viable.

“If we can have the true picture as to what is the expectation of the university and its plans it would be better for us,” Innis said.

In March, UTT workers, who have been working for the past ten years and more on contracts will be having their day in court in an attempt for permanency status. On January 11, president of UTT Professor Sarim Al-Zubaidy sent a proposal to the union on its restructuring process.

That proposal stated that 287 workers would have to be retrenched, a move to have an estimated annual cost savings of approximately $41.5 million.

In the first phase of restructuring where job cuts were done in the academics front, according to Al-Zubaidy, there was a cost saving of $35.5 million.

Further job cuts in the future will have an estimated cost saving of $20 million. On Monday, a protest of similar nature was held at UTT’s O’Meara campus in Arima where staffers shouted that Al-Zubaidy “has to go.”

In response, Al-Zubaidy said he has no other motive but making the university sustainable for decades to come.

UTT recorded a deficit of $33 million in November 2017 while its reserves currently stand at $2 million. UTT usually gets a monthly subvention of $16.7 million, however, for the past three months, they only received $10 million for each month.

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