Dismissal of 11 UTT lecturers …”LEGAL ACTION COMING”

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Legal action is coming against the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and the State.

The 11 dismissed UTT lecturers from the Valsayn campus have given Anthony Garcia, Minister of Education, until Thursday afternoon to rescind the dismissal letters or face a legal challenge.

The dismissal letters were distributed on Friday and more are expected to be issued to other academic staff.

On Monday, Garcia called on the UTT to hold its hand until further notice. This was followed by UTT president Prof Sarim Al-Zubaidy issuing a statement hours later in which he said the university has been asked to stop any further distribution of dismissal letters. He explained the UTT had been operating under severe financial constraints and management had to look closely at the efficiency and effectiveness of its operations.

Al-Zubaidy said the first phase of the restructuring began on Friday with the separation of 59 members of its academic staff. He said the criteria used was based on the UTT’s current and future needs.

On Monday, nine of the fired lecturers went to the O’Meara campus, Arima, with their union representative, Devant Maharaj, of the Sanctuary Trade Union to demand a meeting with Al-Zubaidy.

They waited outside his office door calling on him to meet with them. He eventually emerged and said he would speak with one of the lecturers from the group. Lecturer Dr Kumar Maharaj said after the conversation they learnt Al-Zubaidy had said he could not revoke the letters and the retrenchment would continue.

Maharaj said he had four more weeks to finish his course work with his students. He said he cannot even reach them because his UTT email was dismantled by management. He said the ball was now in Garcia’s court.

The dismissed workers are being represented by attorneys Anand Ramlogan SC and Devesh Maharaj.

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