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UTT managers brace for job cuts

Published: 
Sunday, May 20, 2018

The University of T&T’s (UTT) massive restructuring exercise is expected to save over $140 million in overhead expenses.

However, questions are being raised among the management level as to why a whopping $45 million will be spent over the next three years in the re-do of its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) system.

Late last year, the UTT announced its financial challenge especially after it received a substantial reduction in its recurrent allocation in the 2016 budget (for the fiscal year 2016-2017). The allocation in the 2017 budget was further reduced.

Speaking with the Sunday Guardian under strict anonymity, a senior manager at UTT said instructions have already been given to the ICT head to replace the current student information (Jenzabar), Human Resource and finance system with Banner.

“The estimated cost over the next three years could be $45 million. The vendor has already made two high-level visits,” the manager said.

“Please note the vendor was selected before the needs analysis has been done. Also the lack of tendering process. Any capital purchase more than $200,000 requires an RFP. This is very wrong,” the manager added. RFP means a request for proposal, which is a type of bidding solicitation in which a company or organisation announces that funding is available for a particular project or programme, and companies can place bids for the project’s completion.

The manager also disclosed that UTT “continues to award millions worth in contracts to vendors–air conditioning, landscaping…despite the threat of attempts to close campuses.”

On Friday, at a media conference, UTT’s deputy chairman and acting chairman of the Board of Governors, Prof Clement Imbert indicated that as the retrenchment continued among the academics, next to go were about 20 managers and four vice presidents.

On that statement, the UTT manager said that during the period October to November 2017 “all corporate heads were asked by the new President to identify 50 per cent of staff to be terminated. This was in October 2017.”

He said none of the managers ever saw the new organisational chart and none to his knowledge were consulted.

“What I can say is that the cuts that have been identified to management includes: 125 in academics (which represents a 25 per cent cut) and 422 in administration (50 per cent cut). The President wants a one to two or one to three ratio for academics to corporate staff,” the manager said.

“This exercise was done although the list of 287 names was already sent to the representing union, the OWTU.”

The manager, who fears that he would be in the line up to go home in the second retrenchment phase, said his managerial colleagues have been preparing themselves to leave. “Many are job hunting and prepared to leave. A very high percentage of managers are currently on month-to-month contracts. One vice president has already been ‘hounded out already’ if I should say that.

“There is a total breakdown in trust among managers, much less to say the rest of the staff and evidently, lack of motivation,” he added.

The manager added that maybe if a voluntary separation package was offered to them “the impact would have been softer.”

UTT deputy chair: I will only know things when informed

When contacted on these latest issues at UTT, Imbert said he was not employed at UTT and was only the deputy chairman and acting chairman of the Board and would only know things when informed.

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