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456 staffers to be regularised

Published: 
Saturday, April 21, 2018
UTT, OWTU in critical talks

Over 400 University of T&T (UTT) staffers have been promised regularisation and permanent employment in their respective positions, despite the fact that the institution is seeing “financial hard times.”In an OWTU/UTT branch bulletin on the UTT issue yesterday, it was revealed that 456 employees would be regularised. The bulletin was titled: “Permanency is on the Horizon!” and read: “After two hours…of heavy negotiations by OWTU a response came. UTT agreed to regularise the workers. It was agreed that the permanency letters will be confirmed and distributed in batches. These letters will be based on seniority of tenure for completion of the process.”

Acting under the directions of the Industrial Court to resume regularisation discussions, UTT finally agreed to meet with the union on Wednesday. An OWTU executive team, led by second vice president Sati Gadjadhar-Inniss and senior labour relations officers Gregory Marchan, Valarie Phillip-Paul and the OWTU-UTT branch committee, met with UTT management, led by deputy chairman of the UTT’s board of governors, Professor Clement Imbert, at the O’Meara Campus.It was agreed the first batch of workers will be confirmed in mid-May (10 years and more service), the second batch in mid-June (five to nine years service) and the third batch in mid-July (less than five years service). After selection the employee lists will be sent to the OWTU for verification, then confirmed and signed off by both parties.Whilst 456 contract workers will be made permanent, the UTT remains fixed in its proposal to retrench 287 workers, including staff from academics, as it is expected to save over $40 million. This restructuring plan was announced on January 15 by UTT president Sarim Al-Zubaidy. Gajadhar-Inniss had confirmed then that the union received the proposal.Contacted yesterday, Imbert confirmed the regularisation process had been approved, adding some employees were on three-year contracts while others were on a month-to-month basis.

The university has been facing possible turmoil since UTT’s board of governors chairman Prof Kenneth Julien announced that it would be hard to continue operations beyond January 2018 due to the challenges created by a further 11 per cent decrease in UTT’s 2017/2018 recurrent allocation to $200 million.

On December 12, 2017, Al-Zubaidy also informed UTT’s student body that there will be no new intake of students for the 2018/2019 academic year in three of the university’s major programmes: Biomedical Engineering, Environmental Science and Management, Bioscience and Agriculture and Health Sciences.

Despite this, $323,059,056 of the university’s “unspent funds” have been transferred to its Signature Building Complex project at Tamana InTech Park.

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