PORT OF SPAIN –– Some 80 employees attached to the Office of the Prime Minister, Tobago Affairs were dismissed yesterday after being given termination letters.
The ministry, which was formerly known as the Ministry for Tobago Development, was created by the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration in 2010.
Approximately 800 employees were hired over the last five years but the ministry was described as a tool used to undermine the Tobago House of Assembly.
Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy was recently reported as saying she would not be going on a firing spree and would be guided by policy.
However, employees yesterday were given termination letters signed by deputy permanent secretary Vel Lewis, instructing them not to show up for duty beyond September 30.
“You are not to report for duty beyond this date without prior approval of the permanent secretary. In this regard, should this office require your services for any period beyond September 30, 2015, you will be so notified by the Human Resource Unit,” the letters read.
Responding to the issue in a release yesterday, the Office of the Prime Minister, Tobago Affairs said the members of staff who were sent home were employed on a short-term contract basis of three to six months.
The release stated that the letters were reminders to the employees that their employment ended on September 30, 2015, which represented the end of the fiscal period.
It added: “Short-term contract employment was introduced to the public service to address the dearth of qualified persons in circumstances where the organization is in a period of transition and growth.
“These short-term contracts are, by nature, transient and are not normally expected to endure beyond a period of one year.
“In this regard, the Office of the Prime Minister, Tobago Affairs wishes to state that no letters of termination have been given to employees, but according to the outlined procedure, persons received letters advising that their contracted period of short-term employment has come to an end.”