Hours after 15 contracted workers of the T&T Police Service (TTPS) was terminated, they are now demanding that they be paid a lump sum for the remainder of their contracts which could amount to millions of dollars.
Yesterday, they said are yet to be told how the financial remuneration for the remainder of their contracts will be honoured, as no terms and conditions were outlined.
On Monday, the 15 contracted workers, who were all hired by former Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, were handed their termination letters by Deputy Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob.
Four other people who worked with the TTPS were also relieved of their duties with immediate effect.
Guardian Media media was also reliably informed that two secretaries and a groundsman were also sent home.
The dismissals came hours after an Express newspaper article wrote about people hired by Griffith and the salaries they were earning.
Earlier this month Jacob was appointed accounting officer, which followed the court ruling that the appointments of himself as acting Commissioner and that of Gary Griffith were unconstitutional.
Jacob insisted that the move to terminate the workers was a cost-cutting exercise to channel resources on the ground.
He said the savings will run into millions.
Among the 15 terminated were TTPS’ Corporate Communication Manager Francis Joseph, Events Manager Lisa Ghany and Paul Nahous, consultant, firearms and ammunition audit implementation and retraining services.
On the heels of the firing, former police Commissioner Gary Griffith claimed there is “blatant political interference” in the running of the TTPS.
Griffith cited budgetary cuts as a reason for this move as a “bogus argument” since only the civilian staff hired by him are being terminated and their contracts being paid off, which meant that taxpayers will be footing a bill for no work.
The workers’ contracts are due to expire in 2022 and 2023.
Five will expire in 2023 with the remaining ten expiring next year.
The monthly salary of the lowest-paid contracted worker was $18,000 while the highest was listed at $42,000.
One line in the termination letters, signed by Jacob stated “you will be compensated for the unexpired period of your contract.”
In trying to make sense of the termination letter, one worker said “the understanding is that we would be paid for whatever is outstanding on our contracts. That was part of the communication. But to our surprise, no terms and conditions were given.”
Contacted yesterday, Ghany said she was “still trying to make sense of it (letter) and understand what the terms and conditions would be. Those did not seem clear from the initial correspondence they were given.”
Another affected worker, speaking on the condition of anonymity told Guardian Media “as of now we don’t know what is the payment plan. Normally when you terminate somebody in the letter of termination explains a payment plan….this was not included in our letters yesterday.”
When he inquired about the method of payment from Jacob, the worker said the Deputy Commissioner said he would have to talk to the head of finance to find out.
The TTPS’ HR department also could not shed any light.
“They say they would have to approach the Finance Ministry to get the money if they have to pay us in a lump sum.”
The terminated worker said he preferred to be paid all his money upfront for the remainder of his contract rather than to receive a monthly payment until his contract ends in 2022.
“I told Mr Jacob I want to apply for my NIS and I don’t want them to tell me that I am still being paid by the TTPS because when you apply for NIS you have to be unemployed. So if you give me all my money now I could go to the National Insurance Board and apply for my NIS. If you paying me monthly until July of 2022 that means you are holding me back.”
He estimated his lump-sum payment to be $195,000.
Another terminated worker said he preferred all his money in a big tranche.
“You see that allows me to move on. If I get paid every month it means that I will be still tied to the TTPS until my contract is up but I am not working for them. If you pay me a lump sum I could cut my ties with the TTPS and I am on my own.”
Stating that next October, his contract will come to an end, he disagreed that the termination by Jacob was part of a cost-cutting measure for the TTPS.
“Whether a lump sum is paid or not it cannot be a cost-cutting exercise because you are still paying us until the end of the contract. So where are you saving money, in that? So that statement (by Jacob) that this move was to save is absolutely ridiculous. You are paying the terminated employees until their contracts come to an end and you are not using them. So you now have 19 people you are paying to stay home when you could have used them to help the TTPS and just not renew their contracts. This just does not make sense.”
The worker estimated his lump-sum payment at $320,000
Repeated calls to DCP Jacob’s cellphone yesterday went unanswered.
Finance Ministry clarifies
cost of contracts
Yesterday, a statement from the Finance Ministry sought to clarify the cost of the contract employment in the TTPS.
In reality, the release stated “as can been seen from the estimates of recurrent expenditure under Item 02 – Goods and Services/001 – Police Service (Trinidad)/16 – contract employment, the actual expenditure on contract employment in the TTPS in 2016 was $61.6 million, down from $67.2 million in 2015.
“In fact, the expenditure on this item showed a downward trend from 2015 to 2018, from $67.2 million to $54.1 million. However, expenditure on contract employment in the TTPS began to increase after 2018, rising from $54.1 million in 2018 to $88.8 million in 2021, an increase of $34.7 million per year over the period 2018-2021,” the release stated.