Member of parliament for Couva North Rudranath Indarsingh has joined with TTUTA in condemning the recent advertisement published by the Ministry of Education which seeks to fill vacancies for assistant instructors in technical vocational positions.

In a press release issued today, MP Indarsingh asked “why would the government advertise these positions when TTUTA has said that these vacancies can be filled by existing teachers who are qualified and waiting for placement within the teaching service.?”

The following is a press release from MP Indarsingh:

In a spirit of bewilderment and ever deepening concern for the Government’s consistent mishandling of the country’s Industrial climate, I join with the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA) in condemning the recent advertisement published by the Ministry of Education which seeks to fill vacancies for assistant instructors in technical vocational positions.

This follows a similar advertisement in which vacancies for assistant teachers were advertised for the Substitute Teacher Programme. In both instances, TTUTA has reported that such vacancies can be filled by existing teachers who are qualified and waiting for placement within the teaching service.

TTUTA’s concern is that the Ministry, and by extension the Government, are seeking to fill vacancies on contract at lower salaries which cannot be ignored. Why would the Government seek to fill such vacancies on a contractual basis, when it knows fully well of the pool of teachers who are eligible for permanent employment in these posts? Is it true that the salaries offered for these positions are lower than what is being currently offered to personnel in such positions? If so, why?

I am calling on the Minister of Education to tell the country how many vacant positons currently exist within the teaching service. The Prime Minister and the Minister of Education must exercise leadership on this issue, and expeditiously engage the Teaching Service Commission to deal with filling all vacancies with preference being given to our qualified teachers.

It is crystal clear that the Government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley is undermining and violating a registered collective agreement between TTUTA and the Chief Personnel Officer. Additionally, the concerns raised by TTUTA comes after the announcement that over four (400) workers at state owned TSTT are to be retrenched, and another announcement that two thirds of workers at CEPEP are to be sent home.

What do these signals indicate about the state of Industrial Relations in the country? In the midst of these mass job losses, the Minister of Labour is sheepishly and intolerably silent on these issues, making him an accomplice in the banishing of these workers to the breadline. In the case of TTUTA, the Government needs to re-evaluate its position on advertising these vacancies, and give preference to the existing pool of teachers to occupy such vacancies at the standard salaries.