The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC), has reversed a decision to transfer a senior staff member from its Southern division to Tobago after employees in Tobago objected to the transfer accusing the supervisor of being racist.
The accusations form part of a series of alleged incidents throughout the Commission. And while the Commission maintains that T&TEC is an “equal opportunity organisation” management has also acknowledged “the need to implement a diversity policy” to prevent similar occurrences.
Employees of the Commission, who did not wish to be named, said in one of the incidents highlighted two South-based senior level employees are implicated. While one was placed on suspension after allegedly using racist remarks, the other allegedly posted racist comments in a social media chat. A disclaimer message soon followed suggesting that the comments should not be attributed to the individual in question who later left the chat.
The supervisor implicated in the chat room comments was scheduled to be transferred, after a Tobago based supervisor was sent for training and a vacancy opened.
The South-based supervisor was scheduled to assume the position yesterday (March 8.)
Employees also furnished Guardian Media with a copy of a letter sent to management detailing alleged discrimination at a branch of the Commission.
But Tobago’s Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) Shop Steward Bainet Hamlet said that the new supervisor was “a no show” and no explanation was given.
In a statement, T&TEC said no senior supervisor who has been accused of using discriminatory language is being transferred to Tobago. According to the release, “It is a normal part of T&TEC’s operations to transfer staff among operating centres to fill existing needs. One such vacancy, for a senior supervisor, currently exists in Tobago and must be filled to ensure the island has its full complement of staff to manage technical work.”
The release went on to state that in light of concerns expressed by employees in Tobago, a decision has been taken to reverse the planned transfer, “while further enquires are completed internally.”
The Commission added, a senior supervisor is currently on suspension and “will be provided with counselling and training regarding unresolved biases that may affect their ability to effectively serve at the Commission.”
It added this training will be conducted in keeping with “T&TEC’s Code of Ethics which prohibits discrimination on, among other things, the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, political affiliation, sex or marital status.”
The release concluded by stating the Commission recognises the need to implement a diversity policy to prevent similar incidents.