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Two TDC workers called back

Published: 
Saturday, March 18, 2017

Interim CEO of the Tourism Development Company Cliff Hamilton says two employees who got dismissal letters earlier this week were called back to work “because we felt it was the best thing to do until things were settled.”

The decision came one day after the workers were sent home. Asked if the decision to rescind the dismissal letters was done on the basis of a political directive Hamilton told the Guardian: “No, it is because we are dealing with human beings.”

But workers told the Guardian that the employees were called by Hamilton and told he was not aware there was another option open to him. The two—one of whom was in marketing and the other in product development—were said to have projects which needed to be completed and they would be given month to month contracts.

Representative of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) at the TDC, Allison Phillips, told the Guardian that the workers showed up for work today but were told by Hamilton to return on Monday. But she objected and said the workers were on the job, and he promised to have their letters ready by the end of the day.

Hamilton, who took up the job as interim CEO just over a week ago, admitted that like the employees he was surprised by the announcement that the TDC would be dissolved. He said: “I am not in the Cabinet and would not have known that a decision would have been taken to dissolve the company.”

He said when he took the job he “ was aware of the possibility of restructuring as it was being discussed in the public domain.”

Asked if he had met with Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe before taking up his appointment, Hamilton confirmed a meeting. He said: “It was a typical meeting. We discussed general issues and she told me go and do a good job.” But, he said, he was given no specific mandate.

Hamilton said since the announcement to dissolve the TDC “we are managing the best way we can.”

He said: “We have been communicating with staff daily to keep everybody calm so that the place is not infested with rumours. We believe that if we keep them informed of changes that will keep them calm.”

Former minister in the Ministry of Finance Mariano Browne described the decision to shut down the TDC as “a stupid decision to be blunt.”

Browne also described as “senseless” the decision to establish two separate companies one for Trinidad and the other for Tobago.

He said if the TDC failed to deliver on its mandate “that says there is a problem with the management and planning.”

Workers say based on Government’s decision, it appears “there will be five entities looking after tourism in the country: the Ministry of Tourism, the un-named new replacement company, the Regulatory Authority, the Division of Tourism of the THA and the new Tobago Tourism entity.”

They have created a Facebook page, TDC Employees Speaks, which they say they will use to give “factual information about the TDC and what we have gone through over the years.”

In March last year Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said the Government was dissatisfied with “the current arrangement and we are sure that better arrangements can be made.”

The PM said then that Cabinet had taken a decision to examine the role of the TDC “in promoting, developing and marketing Tobago as a tourism destination.

He said having looked at the numbers, expenditure and behaviour “we have come to the conclusion that the TDC is contributing little to the marketing of Tobago and T&T as a tourism destination and therefore we need to rectify that and just over three months from now we will report as to what new model the Government will proceed to pursue.”