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Garcia: UTT overstaffed, fat must be trimmed

Published: 
Monday, January 22, 2018
Education Minister Anthony Garcia

Education Minister Anthony Garcia says the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) is of the view that the organisation is “overstaffed and to run the university efficiently it will mean they have to trim fat.”

But former Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim is warning that the decision to retrench 287 staff members, will “compromise the quality of teaching and learning and administration at the university,” and may impact its accreditation with the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT).

Garcia insists, however, that “as of now, no decision has been taken,” as to how many people will be sent home.

The Sunday Guardian reported that details of the separation proposal were submitted to both the Minister and the OWTU. The university’s President Sarim Al-Zubaidy in a letter updating staff on the restructuring indicated that the university was awaiting feedback from both entities.

Garcia, who has been the convenor of meetings between the UTT management and the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) which represents the UTT workers as discussions continue on the university, said he was aware that the OWTU had “requested information from the UTT with respect to the number of persons who might be in line to be sent home, and once the information is supplied to the union I will reconvene the meeting. But the matter is still under negotiations.”

He could not say when that meeting will take place.

Garcia would not get into details on plans to rationalise the UTT telling the T&T Guardian “all of those things are subject to negotiations. I as the convenor of the meeting, I cannot pronounce on any of the proposals either put forward by the university or by the union at this point. I would be compromising my position,” he said.

Garcia said “you have to remember we in a process of negotiation. Once the union receives the requested information, as the person who has been chairing the meeting will reconvene the session where we will continue to work out how best we will deal with the situation.”

The T&T Guardian understands that the plan is to rationalise the UTT campuses and relocate to the Tamana InTech Park which would be the headquarters of the UTT much like the St Augustine Campus is to the University of the West Indies. Garcia refused to say whether this is so.

But on a tour of UTT last November, Garcia said the Government will ensure that the monies invested in the InTech Park over the years are not wasted.

Karim has expressed “deep concern,” over the report that 287 staff members are to be sent home.

He told the T&T Guardian that the “draconian approach to retrench 287 academic and corporate staff at UTT, is a complete betrayal by the Rowley-led Government,” Karim said.

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