19 contract workers fired in limbo over police payment

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Francis Joseph, sacked responsible for communication at TTPS. –

SHANE SUPERVILLE and JENSEN LA VENDE

THE DECISION to fire 19 contract workers from the police service, all hired by former Police Commissioner (COP) Gary Griffith, without full and final payment of their wages appears to be heading to court if it is not resolved for many years Longer.

The group, which included several department heads, was fired last Monday by Deputy Police Commissioner McDonald Jacob as part of a “cost reduction” exercise.

The Department of Finance said the cost of contracts under Griffith’s three-year term from 2018 to 2021 increased from $ 54.1 million in 2018 to $ 88.8 million in 2021.

Several of the former contract workers contacted by Sunday Newsday said they had not been paid for the rest of their contracts and intended to take legal action if the debt was not settled.

One of the questions to be answered is whether the former contract workers are entitled to compensation as part of their settlement or only to the base salary, according to sources.

Sunday Newsday spoke to some of the former employees, some of whom declined to give their names.

Among those whose contracts were terminated were Sheldon Edghill, Head of Executive Management Services, Dwight Andrews, CoP Strategic Advisor, Salisha Gomes-Andrews, Head of Project Planning, Research and Implementation, Francis Joseph, head of corporate communications and media consultant Adrien Don Mora.

Griffith defended the hiring of workers, saying they improved the performance and efficiency of the police.

Responding to questions via WhatsApp on Friday, security expert Paul Nahous, who was hired as a firearms and training consultant, said that while he was told he would be paid for the part not expired of the contract, no further details were given as to when this would occur.

DCP Mc Donald Jacob fatigued 19 contract workers hired during the tenure of former Police Commissioner Gary Griffith. -File photo / Sureash Cholai

“We have not been made aware of the arrangements to pay us. I have contacted them and am willing as always to participate in any dialogue on this matter, once it is done in an honest and serious manner.

“We are not asking for anything more (at least from my side) than what we agreed to and were made aware of upon termination. Like everyone else, we have financial obligations to fulfill at home and we must do so. see priority. “

Contacted for comment, Lisa Ghany, who was hired as the police events manager, said she was surprised and disheartened by the cuts, noting that her contract was renewed in July.

She also questioned the reasoning behind the dismissal of some staff for vacant positions and said she was waiting to see what arrangements were made for payment.

“I’m waiting, giving them time. Realistically, I want to hear from them in the next two weeks.

“I have a range of talents and experiences, my plan is to focus on business, to join the job market.

“We were all professionals. I represent myself as such wherever I go.

“I do not accept the explanation given that these were budget cuts because it does not make sense to pay some people and then hire others to fill the position.”

Despite the cuts, Ghany said she enjoyed her time and experiences in the police department.

Other employees were not happy with the lack of communication or motivation behind their dismissal.

A former employee who claimed he owed him nearly $ 500,000 told Sunday Newsday he hoped it would be paid as a lump sum rather than installments.

“I don’t have a problem with what they did, but how they did it.

“They haven’t determined how we’ll be paid, I can’t be paid in installments. No direction has been given to finance on how to pay us.

“How are we going to live? I should have my money to do as I please.

In this file photo from September 1, 2021, Acting Police Commissioner Gary Griffith speaks to the media alongside Events Manager Lisa Ghany at the Police Administration Building in Port of Spain. Griffith’s position was declared illegal by Judge Nadia Kangaloo on October 14. Ghany was one of 19 contract workers fired by DCP McDonald Jacob on October 25. – File photo / Ayanna Kinsale

Another former employee, who asked not to be named, asked to be paid his unpaid wages as a lump sum and asked if the exercise would save money.

“How can you save money if you pay off contracts?” Where is the economy? I don’t know where this economy is coming from.

“They are suggesting that they pay us our base salaries without allowances, but the CPO told them that was wrong because the allowances were part of the package they signed up for.”

The employee also asked where the directive for staff reductions came from.

The man said he was called to a meeting with DCP Jacob, CPA Joanne Archie and police human resources manager Angela Ramlagan and told them their services were no longer needed.

Contacted for comment, attorney Clyde Weatherhead, former chairman of the Civil Service Association, said former contract employees were entitled to ask for additional details about their dismissal.

He noted that unless a valid reason for their dismissal is given, employees may be entitled to compensation.

“At first glance, it looks like someone got up one morning and said, ‘We don’t need you, come home. “

You must have a reason for termination. If it is a dismissal, it is a dismissal and they are entitled to all the benefits associated with the dismissal.

“They can argue that they were unfairly fired if no cause is given. If it is not misconduct or bad behavior, it can be seen as harsh and oppressive.”

Weatherhead also said those fired should take legal action not only to get what they were owed, but also to avoid setting a precedent where contract workers could be fired without just cause.

For her part, the President and CEO of the consultancy firm Personnel Management Services Ltd, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt, advised those concerned to consult Article 22 of the Police Services Act and the Dismissals and Dismissals Act. severance pay for more information.

Section 22 (2) of the Police Service Act states: “The commissioner may, having regard to the qualifications, experience, skills and merit of a person who is not part of the service, appoint by contract such a person as a police officer for any period. “

She also noted that the Ministry of Labor should have been informed if the contracts of more than five workers were terminated.

Sunday Newsday contacted the Permanent Secretary of the Department of National Security, Gary Joseph, who declined to comment on the matter.

“The TTPS has an accountant and he is responsible for the financial management of the TTPS.”

Jacob was appointed accountant by the finance minister in September after a court ruling blocked his acting appointment as CoP.

Sunday Newsday also contacted the director of personnel, Dr Darryl Dindial, who said he was not aware of the details behind the layoffs and could not speak about them.

Jacob in a previous report defended the decision to cut staff noting that it had been done purely on a budget basis and dismissed accusations that he was firing civilian staff hired by Griffith.

He maintained that no unit had been seriously affected by the cutbacks, as police operations and duties continued as normal.

“As is customary in most organizations, staffing arrangements can be reviewed and, if necessary, new people can be hired to fill vacant positions.”

ACP Archie, who is in charge of the administration, also declined to comment on the matter.


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