Garcia, Francis have opposing views …”TO FIRE OR NOT TO FIRE?”

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It would seem that Anthony Garcia and his junior, Dr Lovell Francis, are at odds over the firing of 11 lecturers from the University of  Trinidad and Tobago (UTT).

They gave opposing views on Tuesday and one wonders how this will end.

Garcia, the Minister of Education, has had a hard time leading from the front at his Ministry.

Garcia went to the Senate on Tuesday and said that the UTT staff members who received termination letters last Friday, were deemed surplus to the university’s needs. And Francis at an event in Couva, confirmed that all dismissal letters sent to UTT lecturers had been withdrawn.

Speaking during the urgent questions segment of the sitting and in response to a question from Opposition Senator, Khadijah Ameen, on how termination letters served to 30 members of staff would affect UTT and delivery of its academic programme, Garcia said UTT was involved in teaching and research and the computation of individual workloads has to take into account both outputs.

He added, “After a thorough analysis of the staffing at UTT and the workload of lecturers, those who have been scheduled for termination are surplus to the requirements of the university to provide the same level and quality of service and programmes that currently obtain. Therefore the termination of those persons will have no impact on the institution’s ability to deliver its academic programmes.”

Ameen said there were reports of another 100 people set to be dismissed from UTT and asked Garcia to confirm, but Senate President Christine Kangaloo did not allow the question. Ameen then asked, with a lecturer dismissed, what would happen to the course. Garcia responded that he did not micromanage UTT and that would be a better question for its board and management.

On Monday, 11 UTT lecturers who were dismissed from the Valsayn campus gave Garcia until Thursday to rescind their dismissal letters or face a legal challenge.

At Couva, Francis said, “Those letters have already been rescinded. We actually put a halt to those terminations. We are facilitating a discussion between the OWTU (Oilfield Workers Trade Union) and the university as to the future of UTT. Until those talks are concluded, we have really asked there be no firings of any kind.

“So there is no need to try to threaten the Ministry.”

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