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Promotion dispute at Namdevco
Prematee Ramnarine, mother of former Security Intelligence Agency (SSA) head Reshmi Ramnarine, has been promised a promotion to the post of Clerk IV at the National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (Namdevco)—a position that does not exist in the establishment.
Ramnarine, who has more than 25 years’ service, approached the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) last year, claiming she had been bypassed for a promotion. In a bid to bring a speedy resolution to the matter, former chairman Robert Ramsamooj agreed to enter into a voluntary conciliation mediation agreement between Namdevco and Ramnarine.
T&T Guardian learned it was agreed that Ramnarine, who held the substantive post of Clerk I, would be promoted to the position of Clerk III effective May 3, 1994, and to Clerk IV effective March 1, 2007. However, a year after she went to the EOC, the agreed promotion cannot go into effect because the position of Clerk III is currently filled and the position of Clerk IV does not exist.
In the interim, investigations revealed, management took a decision to allow Ramnarine to act as assistant manager at the Norris Deonarine Northern Wholesale Market in Macoya until the matter is settled. However, Ramnarine is insisting that an agreement was entered upon to promote her to Clerk IV.
According to the Draft Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure there is no position of Clerk IV within Namdevco. Questioned yesterday on the basis for entering into such an agreement when such a post does not exist, Ramsamooj claimed the agreement to settle the matter between Namdevco and Ramnarine was based on advice from Attorney General (AG) Anand Ramlogan.
“I will admit the matter has not been settled...It is a complex matter,” Ramsamooj said. “It went to the board and the board decided to seek the opinion of the AG in the matter. The AG sent an opinion. The board decided to adopt the recommendation of the AG.
“In summary, it stated we should settle the matter. Having received the advice from the AG we are now implementing the advice. I am not an executive chairman, it is only so much I can do.” Asked whether Ramlogan was informed that the position of Clerk IV does not exist in the establishment, Ramsamooj replied, “Yes, he knew the position does not exist. We submitted all the factors.
“It is over one year but we could not act on a decision because of the complexity. We had to seek advice. We sought advice from a consultant and the AG. “Things are now being put in place to settle to try and settle the matter,” Ramsamooj said. When the T&T Guardian contacted Ramlogan yesterday, inquiring whether he was aware the matter had not been settled despite his advice, he replied, “I have no comment to make on that matter.”
Promised position does not exist at Namdevco
Sources at Namdevco told the T&T Guardian the human resources department has taken a hands-off approach, while some of the former board members are also distancing themselves from the matter. The agreement between Namdevco and Ramnarine has triggered outrage in the organisation, with five other employees now clamouring to be treated similarly.
The employees, sources said, are also making plans to approach the EOC. “When the proper procedures are not followed, this is the end result,” a top Namdevco official told T&T Guardian. A backlash, Namdevco industrial-relations consultant Karan Mahabirsingh said, must be taken into consideration when such agreements are being entered into.
“One must consider in making a decision, merited or otherwise, the implications of any such decision. My advice was not against the particular individual but looking at how the move can impact other people,” Mahabirsingh told the T&T Guardian in an interview yesterday.
Mahabirsingh said his role was to ensure that a solution was reached that was acceptable to both parties. “One of the considerations was the position that was promised did not exist in the establishment. My advice was, you cannot appoint to a non-existent position. The position of a Clerk IV does not exist.
“I suggested that Namdevco seek some position that may satisfy her needs and at the same time not put the corporation in a compromising position. “I discovered in my conversation with Namdevco officials that the advice of the AG was also being sought. I said we should await the advice of the AG despite my own views on the matter.”
However, Mahabirsingh said, if Namdevco is of the view that owing to an oversight Ramnarine should be compensated, it is entitled to explore other options. “It is not beyond their capacity to create a position in order to satisfy that requirement. Of course there is the necessity for approvals to be done,” he said.
Namdevco gets October 12 deadline or else…
Since the agreement, Ramsamooj and Ramnarine’s representative, CEO and managing director of Zatopek Solutions Inc Gerard Pinard, have been in constant communication over the matter. Pinard, in an e-mail sent to Ramsamooj on October 8, expressed his dissatisfaction.
He wrote, “Since your last e-mail communication to me on June 15, 2012, my client and I have been waiting patiently for the results of the promised ‘high priority’ that you have assured us that you were giving to this long outstanding matter.
“To say that we are extremely disappointed at the apparent intransigence of your firm in implementing the terms of the Voluntary Conciliation/Mediation Agreement between Namdevco and Mrs Ramnarine, which was entered into under the auspices of the EOC more than one year ago, would be a gross understatement.
“I would appreciate your satisfactory settlement of this long outstanding issue on or before Friday October 12, 2012, failing which my instructions are to formally report your firm’s non-compliance to the EOC for their action as appropriate. “I have advised my client that she has grounds also to pursue the matter in the form of a trade dispute under the Industrial Relations Act Ch. 88:01 should she choose so to do.”
In an immediate e-mail response to Pinard, Ramsamooj apologised for the delay. “I am more than surprised to now learn that this matter has not come to a finality,” he went on. “I am shocked that this matter is still outstanding after all the personal efforts of the chairman and the AG’s office to have the matter settled. I even piloted a motion at the board level to have the matter settled.”
When the T&T Guardian contacted Pinard yesterday, he confirmed he was representing Ramnarine, but said he could not comment at this stage. Ramnarine: Do not ask me my business Ramnarine, when contacted, told the T&T Guardian she was not prepared to discuss her personal business.
Asked how she felt about Namdevco’s failure to promote her despite the agreement, she replied, “Listen to me. Tell me who gave you the information. Who gave you the information, ask them the questions. “My personal and official business does not concern the T&T Guardian. Whoever is giving you the information...them. Let them answer your questions.”
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