Gopee-Scoon: Remove NYC Consul General
Former foreign affairs minister Paula Gopee-Scoon is calling on Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to commission an investigation into the dismissal of eight members of staff at the consulate in New York last month. Contacted for comment yesterday, Persad-Bissessar said concerns about the matter should be put to Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran.
Efforts to contact Dookeran were unsuccessful. The workers were dismissed after having to write an exam they said they were not prepared for. The workers have been employed at the consulate for periods ranging from seven months to 23 years. They claim discrimination and are demanding their jobs back. They have written to Ambassador to Washington Neil Parsan, who is said to be preparing a report.
Judy Greaves, one of the dismissed workers, in a July 8 letter to Parsan, said she was fired without any explanation or reason. she said her position “has since been assumed by someone who is the wife of a current employee.” she said her responsibilities at the consulate included receptionist duties, immigration data entry, training new staff and other functions.
she said, “For the past five years, I have not received vacation days, sick days, medical coverage, pay raises, as I served the nationals of Trinidad and Tobago.” she said she was “thrown out without any compensation whatsoever for my services.” she described that matter as one of “blatant indifference” to the lives and prosperity of T&T nationals abroad.
The workers have also written to the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) to assist in having them reinstated. Consul General Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam said she was not prepared to comment on the matter until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a statement. Gopee-Scoon said yesterday it was Persad-Bissessar who transferred “a problematic person from one ministry to a mission.”
she insisted, “Nan Ramgoolam must be removed. The Minister of Foreign Affairs must recommend to the Prime Minister that she is removed immediately.” Gopee-Scoon said, “What has been created there is a very poisonous atmosphere and people are on pins and needles.” she said the existing conditions at the consulate were “unsuitable for a public office.”
Regarding the dismissals, Gopee-Scoon said they were matters for the Industrial Court. she said if several employees were removed from an active consulate like the one in New York, “there will be a slowdown and a fall-off in good customer service.” she said there was blatant nepotism at the consulate.
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley said he was not surprised by the dismissals. he said similar incidents have happened in T&T under the People’s Partnership Government. he said the Government was executing its policy of dismissing any and everybody who got a job under the former People’s National Movement (PNM) government. Rowley said, “A lot of that has been happening, particularly with service providers and employees.”
In an interview with the T&T Guardian yesterday, he said, “In T&T, thousands of people have lost their jobs because the Government has decided that they were employed under the PNM and therefore they should lose their jobs.”
• Susan Butcher-David—12 years’ service • Angelina Ramlal—seven years • Judy Greaves—five years • Michael Brathwaite—23 years • Ashton Horsford—18 years • Cherylann Etienne—three years • April Sturgeon—nine months • Charmaine Anderson-Smith—seven months