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Letter to Editor: Monthly contracts are turning MoE workers into modern-day slaves

“To date there are approximately 250 individuals whose three year contracts have come to an end and are now on monthly contracts. In fact this has been the situation for the last year and a half and relates to technical officers in various departments such as IT, Text books, Research, Evaluation, Policy, etc.

“It is important to note that when one is on a monthly contract that means:

  • We have no entitlement to paid vacation;
  • We have no entitlement to sick leave;
  • If we stay home due to illness or an emergency we don’t get paid;
  • We have on entitlement to a gratuity;
  • We have no entitlement to get a job letter;
  • You don’t get paid on time.

“So in essence, for the last year and a half, these are the kind of conditions we have had to work under, which is in violation of the Industrial Relations Act.”

The following Letter to the Editor on conditions faced by contract workers at the Ministry of Education was sent to Wired868 by an anonymous employee:

Photo: A frustrated employee at work.
Photo: A frustrated employee at work.

Unfortunately I have no choice but to again use this medium to address the issues relating to the current position of Contract Workers at the Ministry of Education. Firstly, I would like to address a statement that was made by the Minister in an article published in the Trinidad Guardian on 16 July 2016.

In the article, the Minister stated that “short term employees were hired based on the immediate needs of the ministry at the time and that when these needs were fulfilled, those contracts will come to an end.”

First off, the Ministry does indeed hire “Short Term Employees” during exam time and registration for exams. However the issue to which I am writing relates to those employees who were hired on a three-year contract.

To date there are approximately 250 individuals whose three-year contracts have come to an end and are now on monthly contracts. In fact, this has been the situation for the last year and a half and relates to technical officers in various departments such as IT, Text books, Research, Evaluation, Policy etc. It is important to note that when one is on a monthly contract that means:

  • We have no entitlement to paid vacation;
  • We have no entitlement to sick leave;
  • If we stay home due to illness or an emergency we don’t get paid;
  • We have on entitlement to a gratuity;
  • We have no entitlement to get a job letter;
  • You don’t get paid on time.
Photo: An abusive relationship between boss and employee. (Copyright Shutterstock)
Photo: An abusive relationship between boss and employee.
(Copyright Shutterstock)

So in essence for the last year and a half these are the kind of conditions we have had to work under, which is in violation of the Industrial Relations Act.

You are however expected to continue to perform at your optimum and deliver. What makes these conditions far worse is that during this time many officers have decided to just leave and not take up the monthly contract.

As a result, we now have departments running below capacity in terms of manpower and are even short-staffed. We even have cases of Head of Department, who are on contract, leaving with junior officers—who lack the necessary skills—taking over.

Just recently, at the end of September, many of us who were on six month contracts had to take three days off—with no pay—and were told to wait until HR called up.

Many expected to at least get another six month contract until things were sorted. However to our surprise, although the Permanent Secretary approved additional six month periods, the HR department played favouritism and chose to only give those six month renewals to some and others just got Month to Month Contracts.

Photo: Okay, that is going to be a problem...
Photo: Okay, that is going to be a problem…

I was told by someone in the HR department that if the person did not like you or thought that your Department was not important, you were given a Month to Month. Really, in this day and age this is still happening.

Additionally yesterday—and this is the reason behind this letter—I found out that there were Cabinet notes done, regarding the extension of positions for an additional three year contract period, allegedly stuck on an HR officer’s desk for the last three months. The reason was that the HR person supposedly did not know what to do with the Cabinet note, so she just left it there.

This is the disdain that many Public Officers have for contract workers. Yet we are the ones who work late into the night, get called out on weekends, carry work home to finish, and have to neglect our families to get the work done.

Many Public Officers would cite the Regulations on their duties and bring their union to represent them. We, contract officers, have no union to represent us and no one to take our case to the Industrial Court. And if you speak out, well say goodbye to that Monthly Contract.

Imagine in a Ministry where the Minister—Anthony Garcia—is a former union leader and who is quoted as saying that Month to Month Contracts are akin to slavery, this still continues to persist for close to 18 months.

Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.
Photo: Education Minister Anthony Garcia.

I have reached the point of probably going home and working PH taxi or CEPEP or something. Because as far as I am concerned, the Minister and the Senior Executive of the Ministry of Education don’t care for contract officers.

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  1. All salaried workers are wage slaves!

  2. Gemma I disagree with you Some work very hard

  3. Great is the PNM . This is what you ppl voted for . Mind you Rowley living nice ….

  4. This has been the case in other ministries also.

  5. ANSWERS NOW PLEASE……!!!!!!!!

  6. If we say they are not working then be without them for a month and see.

  7. If this is a true statement then the Minister needs to address this situation urgently. And for those who say all ministry workers do is sit around and collect pay checks I beg you to do thorough investigations before making blanket and unfair comments

  8. Mr. Nicholas Steupz – just remember that PNM is the Political Party that the people of Trinidad and Tobago elected to govern the country. This is not a PNM problem, it is a problem of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe if we can just separate the two we might be able to deal with the problems in a more realistic manner. Just saying.


  10. thats the best way to control people…keep them beholding…

  11. That don’t make it right for those that lost their jobs…And for those who can lose theirs on a month to month contract. #nonsensical #blamethegovernment so what if they complain. You cannot deny the rights of any person.

  12. They were not complaining before, makes one wonder if they were collecting money and not working…..now u have to work to earn….welcome to the real and honest work world….stop complaining and do your work.

  13. All Government employees do is sit around all day anyway, doing nothing but taking home a paycheck. That’s why they’re on short term contracts. When Government has to downsize, contract workers are the first to go! They’re NOT trained, educated properly to do the jobs they were hired to do, customer service is non existent and all of them want you to come back next day, week, month. I haven’t yet been told ‘next year’ but am sure some people have! Pathetic!

    • That’s a crass generalization, don’t you think?

    • Tell me, and be honest now, when have you EVER gone to a Gov’t office and been able to conduct AND conclude your business with them on the same day,week or month????

    • So you’re saying that every government worker on a short term contract sits in an office and don’t do their jobs? There is a lot more to the the MOE than the few who sit in offices. The Moe has many branches. Some even teach the nation’s children. Fyi. Have a seat. Who feels it knows it. That month to month is so serious you can’t generalize. #BS

    • Gemma Gadishaw Licencing office in Princes Town and San Fernando, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Community Development, my Local Corporation, where I work (ICT Access Centre, under the Min of Public Administration)… It sounds like you don’t get out the house much to experience good service.

    • Month to month contract employment is really about worker exploitation….judgement in the Industrial Court has addressed this. While there are some really crass public service employees, those at the WASA and TTEC offices in Couva are beyond exemplary…..there should be more like them….

    • 99.9 percent needs training….
      Just this week my daughter and granddaughter had dealings with a member of staff at the MoE….the treatment was despicable. ….


  15. I would like Wired to check on how many Denominational Schools are paying their ancillary staff the correct wages as stipulated by Government. The boards of some of these schools are profiting from the government and the Auditors are not doing their jobs.

  16. How would the ministers like it if they were on monthly contract , please fix this.

  17. Slaves don’t get paid at all. Let’s be precise with our language.

    • Modern day slaves not our ancestors. Not because we are being paid does not meen we are not being exploited.

    • I never said they aren’t being exploited. I said they aren’t slaves. There are millions of people who are actually being trafficked as slaves today. Let’s be precise with our language.

    • I think the statement “modern day slaves” suggests that the author knows they aren’t exactly slaves Cate. Semantics.

    • They are also not “modern-day slaves.” Slaves are not paid. Slaves cannot leave. Slaves are owned. Slaves have no say in their own lives. An employer being negligent about working conditions is not slavery. It’s an indication that an investigation needs to be done to give the workers some relief. Words mean things.

    • Cate Young When Bob Marley sings Redemption song, the message is the same. We have to free ourselves from mental slavery. Slaves do get ‘paid’ with food and lodging. See what newly elected French president is saying: France was sharing colonial benefits with Asia and Africa (hogwash of course) By language we can justify anything, it seems. I don’t think the use of the phrase ‘modern day slaves’ can be taken to mean other than what it purports, that is, something old with a new twist.

    • Really? Slaves were not “paid” in food. Food was a necessary expenditure for extracting their labour. Do you pay your car in gas or do you need gas to run your car? Metaphors have a place. This is not it. But I supposed I shouldn’t be wary that so many seem eager to be identified as slaves? ?

    • Cate Young Eager???!! Necessary expenditure??? I may speculate that the use of the word applied to contracts is trying to convey an atrocity, not an identification! It was the PP that insisted on month-to-month contracts.

    • If food was a necessary expenditure for attracting labour, then what is the minimum wage?
      Look beyond the chains Cate. Slavery was about getting cheap labour so as to maximise profit. I’d say cheap and not free because slave owners still had to house, feed and care for slaves in so much as they needed them healthy to work hard in the fields.
      Companies like Apple and Nike cannot use slaves anymore and don’t think they wouldn’t if they could. So they use the next best thing, which might be child labour and so on.
      Hence the term “modern day slavery”, to me, just means that ruthless businessmen have evolved from one form of cheap labour to another.
      It is far better than slavery. But it still does not give employees the benefits they should enjoy in 2016.
      You haven’t commented on the issues raised at all. All your attention is aimed at just one phrase in the entire article.

    • I don’t know how to explain to an adult the difference between “cheap” and “free” when we clearly have a model of indentureship that makes that difference clear. I haven’t commented on the issue of the workers because there’s nothing to debate there. I have zero issue with their concerns and I hope they find relief. If in 2016 I have to explain how slavery works then I don’t know that further comment is necessary as it clearly falls on deaf and ill-informed ears. There’s no way anyone is making the “they were paid in food and housing” argument in the 21st century without irony and expecting to be taken seriously. Slavery was an economic model that involved the extraction of free labour. For you to reduce that and equate it to this even in metaphor is a travesty. But perhaps it is this very situation that is to blame for our widespread lack of knowledge around chattel slavery! Hopefully a swift resolution will bring enlightenment to some.

    • No business model involves free labour Cate Young. The first problem is you think you have all the answers on this and we only need to hush and listen attentively to receive enlightenment from your wisdom.
      You might be surprised what would happen if you approached this conversation with an open mind.
      Thanks for the lesson on slavery. Guess I’m officially an adult now. Or getting there…

    • Even historical slaves were paid

      They just weren’t paid properly and the slaveowner had punitive power

      Hence there is much similarity here

  18. This was the plan from the beginning and fully exploited by the past regime!

  19. Sadly this happening in all Ministries.

  20. every ministry is the same thing

  21. If i was a unsuccessful business man and i wanted to exploit my employees, don’t pay taxes, do age discrimination, ignore safety laws, sexual harassment etc, i moved to TNT, business wil blossom , i be a multi millionare,

  22. I use to carry a book when visiting the education office. That’s how poor the service was. I read while the numerous people behind the counter decided whose turn it was to handle visitors. A colleague said she went 11:00 am for an item as was not served until 2:00. If you can’t appreciate a job and only want to dress up someone else should get it.

  23. Well that might explain their disrespectful attitude and their unwillingness to work.

  24. He reminds me of a Former PNM High Commissioner to Ottawa. The entire staff in the Consulate had to stand up when he arrived in the office and salute him. Patrick Manning told me that the man’s wife had to do the same thing when he came home.

  25. My grandmother uses to say “half a loaf, is better than no loaf.”

    If those people on contract believe that it’s modern day slavery, then in a free market economy, they can sell their services to someone else.

    From the functions outlined, it’s obvious that these are professionals, whose qualifications and experience makes them marketable.

    Why then sell yourself into slavery? I’m certain that the Service Commission didn’t place a gun to anyone’s head and say “take these conditions or else!”

    Why then are we seeking to create the perception in the minds of people that the Government is in some way responsible for the conditions of employment? As for as I understand things, an offer is given, an offer is accepted. If the conditions are dispensing, then do not sign on to it. If the employer realizes that they cannot retain services with shitty conditions, then the conditions will change.

    Wake up and Stop complaining people

    • Ruel Ellis in theory that sounds nice, but put this into the mix, you have bills to pay, children to take care of, your significant other may be unemployed or also undermployed. You tried to get a permanent appointment through the Service Commission, but that takes years what do you do seriously please tell me.

    • you talking like a economist talks Ruel Ellis, free markets and what not. your assumptions are that if a person does not like a government contract they could just jump up and get something else. Fact is most people who on government contracts have no other choice, AND the bad treatment starts after you signed the contract in terms of poor working conditions (i type this wearing a dustmask because of the mould ridden government office) , late pay, years waiting on gratuity (2 so far)…

    • There is no free market in the Public Service Ruel Ellis. Where did you get that idea? Public Servants cannot strike or get locked out by the State when negotiations break down for the price of their Labour

    • Please provide me with a list of employers that I can send my CV to.

      Much Appreciated

    • Contract Employees are NOT Public Servants….

      Joann consult SKILL SHARE

  26. many government institutions/state agencies falling in this category

    • there are many pros and cons to permanent, temporary and contract work. Its a personal decision. There is a new type of employee out there. No longer are they spending 30 years in a job, They move around according to salary, Across the globe governments are unable to provide pensions to workers.Contact work is global. Some persons seek contract work as a stepping stone to move on. For the employer, several things have to be taken into consideration, such as time spent on training and they leave. With permanent employees , you run the risk that you train them, they don’t perform (academic qualification) and you cant fire them, so stuck with them. We complain, but the reality is when oil prices are good, the government ,( the largest employer) hires people to ensure that the ;oil patrimony trickles down to the citizens. It the 2nd time around recession and public servants take the brunt of the budget cuts because as the largest middle class the carry the weight of the country , re taxes, NIS etc. the recession is global , and the government has to be strategic in its decision, so cuts, hard as it may be have to come. This is not about self , you or me , its bigger than all of us and we have to survive. I don’t want my granddaughter bogged down with debts that we created because of mismanagement and selfishness .

  27. If the govt is the biggest employer of contract Labour then what is left for the private sector to do ? Follow ent ? On the brighter side the new minister is really trying to bring down the amt by making contract workers permanent .

  28. Should it matter who started the implementation? If it not right it’s not right. If you can afford a month to month for years then it is inhumane and exploitative. People needs benefits such as vacation leave, sick leave, etc and adequate compensation packages. It does not matter who is in power honesty and fairness should always be the watch word.

  29. The whole problem is NOT CONTRACT employment but the MANIPULATION by politicians of jobs in the public service. These go to party supporters in the main, especially in the state enterprises sector.

  30. Please… wide spread short term contracts began in the service in 2010 and got progressively worse up to 2015. People have been suffering for a long time now.

  31. To my knowledge, though many have not had confirmed positions for years, or were in positions that used to be permanent but were converted to contract, most contracts were between one and three years long. Then after the election and the economic contraction, those who weren’t let go have had rolling one month contracts for years. And the problem is that, not only is there no job security, there are no other benefits — particularly rights to sick days or vacation days. That is in a word inhumane. While there are certainly those in the public sector who don’t work efficiently, there are many talented, hard-working people who deserve better than what they’re being given.

  32. A brief history on the rise of contract employment. You have to remember that Public Service Positions are established and fixed since the 1960’s. The problem was that in the 1990’s Government did not have the will to seriously address the reform as outlined by Draper and with the need for new skill sets that did not exist on the establishment government decided to employ people with the skills that were needed on contract to meet the need of the particular Agency.

    Then Politicians realised this was a good way to reward loyalist and the system became abused and used for political purposes. Now we have a case of a large pool oF TECHNICAL OFFICERS employed in Ministries and Agencies. There are even Public Servants who can go on contract for a period of up to 6 yeats before they have to return to the service.

    Now for the argument that Contract officers get more money and a gratuity. Yes that is true but Contract workers have no security of tenure, no union to represent, in fact some have tried and told out right no, so rights if they are fired or displined, like Public Servants have with the PSC (unless they have money to go to court). Also if the Ministry is merged with another Ministry then they can be let go, whereas Public Officers are transferred somewhere else. Also although Ministries all have HR units they still practice Personnel Management. Because apart form employing contract employees they have no say in which public officers stay or leave a Ministry. The PSC does that.

    It is also a myth the people of contract don’t want permanent jobs. The public service just does not have proper positions for these new graduates, old Job Descriptions and it takes forever in the PSC. I applied for and wrote the exam for Foreign Service Officer 1 in 2001 and then got called for and interview in 2004. 3 whole years.

    The only way to fix the system is to totally reform the Public Service to make it relevant to the current job market. But this will never get done because Politicans lack the BALLS to do it.

    • I joined the PS in my 20’s. I would have spent 37 years doing the same job.

      This would have been ok for my mom not me. So contract employment gave me the opportunity to use by brain.

      3 agencies in 16 years using my KSA’s. The traditional Public Service does not give me that opportunity.

  33. question, where are the unions in all this , who are supposed to be fighting for workers rights. more than that the self same worker vote them back into office fully knowing that they are doing nothing for them. irs the chicken and egg issue

  34. We have no problem with contract employment. Is exploitation is the problem

  35. Why should someone have a permanent job?..maybe that’s he reason the public service is so poor

  36. This is happening to someone I know right now…total disregard for worker’s rights!!

  37. What’s the problem with contract labour?..Go to the good old USA and see if there’s something called “permanent employment”
    Also, these folk abroad get mortgages etc etc so the issue may not be the employment but the BANKS Here. If u are skilled uts expected you have mobility
    Now these bandit one month nonesense is different but the argument against contract labour is I’ll founded IMO. people wanna have job conditions like their parents and salary like their grandkids (to come) …doh wuk so ..

    • ‘contract’ isn’t the problem. month to month contract is. You have any idea what it’s like to get a loan or hire purchase on a month to month contract?

    • A permanent worker also has a contract of employment. All are contracts of employment. The issue is short term contracts that has no benefits such as sick leave, vacation leave etc. Why is this government policy? There are persons with 1 year, 2 years or 3 years contracts who may be comfortable with this arrangement. Who can be comfortable with a one month or 3 month contract? Is this prevalent in the Private Sector? Why is it allowed in government? That is exploitation.

    • Again…read some of the comments. .. it started off against the one month bandit thing and has morphed into against contract employment itself…

    • Agreed. The issue is short term contracts of employment and not the other types of contracts.

  38. I had a public service job. I resigned to go on contract. D reason there was no advancement in the job.

    I started at Range 46 the highest I could have reached was 53.

    Contract employment allows you to use any additional skill set that you acquire after you joined the Public Service.

    As I said this is my 3rd agency as I got more qualified contract employment provided me the opportunity to use additional skills I acquired.

    Again if I eh doing a good job simply do not renew.

  39. The contract worker “thing” has been going on for a very many years…

  40. I worked under the Ministry of Health as a contract worker, both long term and short term. It is stressful to be employed from month to month, at times being at home and wondering when or if things will be rectified. I chose to move on. As much as I loved every minute of my job, the bills were not going to pay themselves. Yes, workers were exploited and continue to be exploited. Imagine on a short term engagement, n the worker had no sick leave, if he has to be absent for the day he does not get paid. It is unjust and hopefully the Minister will act positively to abolish this modern day slavery.

  41. multiply this how many times for all ministries, and statutory agencies and entities.

    there is something else: permanent secretaries can hire staff and professionals without either a board or a cabinet note.!!!!

    what i want to share and emphasize, everyone is writing these missives from their quarter, not realizing how consistent and same it is across the govt structure here in tt.

    i think it is five ministries i have worked in, and at least one statutory, all were contracts. and btw, short term is any contract : three, five years. other than a car, you wont get shit for planning, investment, legitimacy of financial matters

  42. Lasana that us the problem when politicians create jobs but no work to pacify supporters . It is also done with big contracts as well . For example giving land send permission to a person ,in a nature reserve to build a carpark and a water park right next to the sea.
    Problems arise when economics takes over from politics as is happening now

    • Agreed. But I get the impression that these jobs are actually important to the Ministry though. And this short-term contract thing has been going on for some time too.

    • Plz highlight this some more as I know of a few units in the MOE that this is actually taking place right now….some have not been paid for 2 months as their assumption forms were not submitted….contract ends Jan 2017…some on 3 month and others on month to month contract…totally unacceptable!!

  43. I emphatise with the short term contract workers especially those in the Ministry of Education, this can be very frustrating

  44. Lasana Liburd you should try to get a commemt from the Minister or PS on this matter.

  45. These Contract workers earn more than the Public Servants for doing the same job and at the end of their contracts collect contract gratuity, in some instances its the Public Servant who has to show the contract worker how to do the job which is unfair.

  46. The ridiculous job appointment system in the Regional Health Authorities has as its base what are called cabinet approved positions and board approved positions.

    In a nutshell, cabinet approved positions are so-called permanent appointments and board approved positions are short term contract provisions, These short term contracts may be (in the case of Aides to Nurses) month to month contracts; for other categories there are six month contracts, one year contracts and two year contracts.

    The short term contract system is being used as a device to escape management’s obligations to workers that should be characteristic of an enlightened industrial relations system. This is a ruse that is frowned upon by the International Labour Organisation. There are workers in the system at all levels who have been subjected to continual rollovers of their short term contracts and who have been employed continuously for fifteen years

    The system is so chaotic that some categories of permanent staff that are offered promotions are told that they have to resign their positions and go on short term contracts to accept the promotion. This horrendous contract system affects both workers with professional qualifications and those without.

    Short term contract workers obviously suffer anxiety over their job security, are at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing mortgage and other loans and credit facilities. They cannot properly plan the future of their families or make significant investments and they are not entitled to be members of the Regional Health Authorities’ Pension Plan. Even if they eventually become “permanent” and eligible to join the Pension Plan, the service they had before they became permanent would not be counted as service in the plan. It must be noted that the formula for calculating workers’ pension is based on a worker’s final salary and on years of service.

    How can workers who are not comfortable when it comes to their quality of life be expected to provide quality health care for the members of the public? This horrendous short term contract system must be abolished as a matter of priority.

    Management of the RHA’s is based on political allegiance and not on providing a first class health service to the citizens. The industrial relations are abysmal and lead to low morale and frustration on the part of employees who are not connected to the party in power.

    In such an environment nepotism reigns unchecked; unqualified personnel are put in positions of responsibility which they cannot handle, promotions are denied to deserving workers because they are not management’s favourites, victimisation flourishes and the provision of health care deteriorates with each passing day. Incidentally in the South West Regional Health Authority alone, there are over 3400 vacancies, including more than 900 vacancies for nursing personnel.

  47. I dont think this a MoE issue alone. Contract Employment has been part of the employment landscape for a while. It is normal practice for ppl to be on month to month before a new contract is offered. The public service is extremely slow, as everyone knows. However, what is exacerbating the situation is there is no clear strategic direction by govt beyond cost cutting. Hence, there are no directives as to what jobs should be cut and what new ones should be added to bring value add to the Ministries. It nothing new to me…its just a longer wait.

    • Is it therefore LEGAL Avenash Ramsoobhag for people to be working on short term or month to month for over a year of 3 years without any benefits, vacation leave, entitlement to sick leave etc. Regardless of if it has been going on for a while it is not right

    • The question is whether u send home someone pending contract negotiations or keep them employed until u work out the employment….which one would u prefer???

    • Rishi, the situation you described above does occur, even in the UK. The reason for that being contractors are are self employed and pay their own pensions, holidays, but get stat sick pay as well. Mind you, I’m not sure how it works here.

    • But Avenash Ramsoobhag over a year, plus it was a practice used in the last administration where people were on month to month for over a period of 3 years. Plus it is not contract negotiations so you are wrong, i worked on contract for 10 years and was in this situation also.

      The PS would say that we would like to to remain but your position that was apporovec for a period of 3 years has come to an end and we need to go back to Cabinet. So in the interim we can offer you and temporary contract until we sort it out however note that you have no benefits to get and you would not get paid on time. In my case that lasted 4 months and I applied and moved on.

      But over a year and the Executive still can’t tell you what is going on, that is not contract negotiations, that is the government not wanting to look like it is sending people home while the Public Servants drag their feet. It the meantime the State is benefiting from your expertise and skills and telling you the need for loyality amd commitent but can’t even keep that promise.

      Savitri Maharaj, in this case when you are on Month to Month you have no benefits, if you get sick and stay home you don’t get paid. I know of people who were sick and in hospital during the weekend and came to work on Monday because if they did not they don’t get paid. Also if there is a shift in Ministries well you in even more trouble.

    • Rishi Maharaj…So why should I suffer losses in benefits for administrative inefficiencies? If a contract is for a fixed period, then wouldn’t the Ministries know when contract comes to an end? Why can’t prior approval be sought for renewal of contract-not person-after contract ends?

  48. I think the bitter irony in all this is back in September 2015 there were a lot of people excited at the prospect of a minister of education who was a former TTUTA head and school principal and teacher. Supposed to have a wide perspective on issues ent! And the prospect of a former union leader for public officers as minister of labour seemed like a match made in heaven! Alas…

  49. This is old news. Contract work has been around for decades and people highly qualifed on month to month contracts. there are people in the public service who have not been confirmed for years. The entire system need overhauling. I have said repeatedly thta DR Rowley is going to get oppositon from public servants and the unions for this. Its interesting when oil prices are high, no one demanded that they be made permanent, because people looked forward for a gratuity. Now we are in a recession, complaints. Dam if you do dam if you don’t. Like so many of us out here ,we are unemployed. qualified and experienced and have been replaced by unqualified and unskilled people. Many of us are single women and have rent and other debts to pay. Thank God for the jobs you have. Stop politicking whether it was UNC or PNM at the helm , which makes sense? A government who runs the country to the ground to appease citizens or impose strict measures to ensure we ride out the recession. As a popular Calypsonian sang’Trinidadian don’t know what they want. it always about self , not country . if you want to be knowledgeable read the feature address by Labour Minister Jennifer Baptiste regarding contract Labour on April 13,2016 and do some research on the issue to be better informed and knowledgeable on the issue. Happy reading

    • Rossana, there is absolutely no politicking in this letter from what I can see. Just someone sharing a pressing pain that just got worse.

    • chk out the post above me, i was talking to that person. My grouse is it has been ongoing like every broken instituion in this country. Where are those affected? playing politics and only when it affects them personally they say something. who is pressurizing the government? the PNM governemtn has made a start. But i’m sure when the oil price increase and the Public service start employing again everyone would apply, since the private sector does little, but underpay and slave labour, so the government is the only option. The politicians knows Trinis does only talk and are docile. Where is their Union? Watson busy fixing himself and they put him back. at the helm of PSA. it s always the government fault. This is a complicated issue, I’m home since last year, contract not renewed and that’s a whole long story. So no job. I have to survive. I am experiencing a new occupation, shaping young peoples mind. Teaching. Unemployment created that space for me and am enjoying every second. Trust God and he will make away. Contract work is a global issue. We need to read and be better informed and have conversations

    • Ok. Yes. This isn’t a problem that is unique to one party. And the writer began their contract under the PP. So I agree.

  50. It’s not a Garcia problem it’s a PNM problem. This situation obtains at many Ministries

  51. So who agreed to and signed these contracts ?

  52. Craziness. What good do they expect to come of this? Certainly unhappy exploited technical support workers are not going to deliver the Ministry out of the crisis management mode into something progressive and evolved. What horrors.

  53. The contract thing began many many years ago…

  54. Contract employment and short term employment is totally different.

  55. Didn’t this contract situation start during Manning’s tenure? I seem to remember this happening in 2007?

  56. Was this man a union leader.
    Do union leaders forget their roots when they get in Govt.
    We recently have had three such union leaders.

  57. Thank You after May 24 2010 to be exact.

  58. There were also teachers on contract, some still may be

  59. Month to month was going on long before PP was in office

  60. This month to month contract has been going on since PPP was government

    • Yes. The story said for the last 18 months. So that means it started under the PP. At least in the author’s case.

    • I have been on contract in the PS since 2000. I got my 1st contract renewed in 2002 in the heart of 18-18.

      This is my 3rd agency and no time b4 the PP the issue of me being on month to month even emerged.

      The beauty of contract employment is that if I was not good they can simply not renew.

      As I stated b4 they getting their job done so they really do not care.

      That is my bigging beef with this govt. This issue should have been dealt wit already.

  61. I and a number of my fellow social workers and guidance counsellors worked on a month to month contract from 2011-2013 everything highlighted in this letter is spot on .

  62. Also, from what I heard, it’s alleged that the technical contract staff were encouraged to apply for a three year contract on the basis that their previous work experience and qualifications will be an asset.

  63. Each ministry has an establishment that states the number of posts and employees for those posts. Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated and extended in years. Most ministries are severely under staff. The PSC is still in process of filling vacant posts. To create new posts and extend the number of staff has to be a parliamentary decision I believe

  64. Earl Best

    This is a VERY troubling letter – in more ways than one. Maybe Mr Matthew Noel can be encouraged to put pen to paper – with the assurance of anonymity, of course!

  65. Well having worked in the public sector for most of my adult life , I’d say it’s a combination of both…and much much more such as outdated structures, systems and policies (19th c), entrenched backward views, no sense of purpose, transparency or accountability, no system of reward or retribution for performance…..it’s almost Dickensian in some ways….

  66. And attorney Gabrielle Gellineau Emanuel did a piece that is excellent reading for employees who are being wilfully frustrated at work: http://wired868.com/2014/08/29/hr868-emancipate-me-from-my-boss-asap/

    • Excellent understanding of problems and good recommendations.
      ‘re: strategic plan-ministries spend thousands to produce fancy documents, the question is, where is the follow through? Keep in mind, your strategic plan sets tone for your budget. So does the Minister of Finance need to get the ball rolling?
      Accountability-staff have supervisors, and who report to a P.S. Has anyone who had a bad experience/interaction with a public servant ever written to the P.S.? What was the response, if any? It would be contrary to get a good performance appraisal-which affects your increments-if there are legitimate complaints against you/your service.
      (By the same token, if you get good service -given prevailing sentiments-do you also write?)
      How do we get public officers to account for their work? And use non-partisan systems of appraisals. It means there must be established standards of work, continuous monitoring and evaluation, constructive feedback, provide basic tools. That seems to be an item missing from article, but which is quite relevant. Shortage of not only staff (qualified and experienced in some instances, as the public sector is different from the private sector, even if it’s the same skill set), but of resources like paper, technology, etc. It makes little sense to put computers if the system is to manually send letters rather than also send via email/fax, records are still paper based and not scanned (check how L&B books are, and the condition). These are all mantras we have been preaching for years. If members of the public have a grouse, write to the P.S., relevant Minister and also to the Minister of Public Admin. Let’s see what happens-it is your tax $, you assess their performance.

  67. It is because the work is being done. It is professionals that is being done to.

    I am going on short term 3 years now and I continue to function as if I have a contract. I will not short change people although I am being short change.

  68. MoE apparently does not care if they lose their employees…there’s always someone else willing to fill the vacancies? As usual no one considers the long term costs of measures such as these. Whose brilliant idea was it anyway? How is this efficient? I’d certainly like to hear the justification for this.

  69. It was happening since before the outgoing Government was in place. I know Operations Officers at Immigration Office who went in under 2 year contracts back in 2008 and when those contracts came to an end they were given month-to-month contracts.

    • The sad thing is when you hear the jobs on month to month contracts. Imagine officers at OSHA were on short term for about 2 years. It happens in the police service. The forensic pathologist was on short term. Tell me if it makes sense. Hope ppl know their rights. Especially if you are losing out on benefits. Join a union.

    • Most Nurses under the Ministry of Health share the same fate.

    • Maybe it’s the whole public service

    • Mel Lissa…so what is PSA saying? Essentially the gov’t can replace public service jobs with contract work? I even see daily paid jobs being advertised on contract. Nugfw?

    • NUGFW members employed by the state are daily paid. They receive a gratuity but no pension. Those workers( Not NUGFW members) have no rights outside the period of their contract. They are not covered like permanent workers or those daily paid. The problem is that those positions are not established in the Public Service. There needs to be a job evaluation exercise to bring these positions into the Public Sector as permanent positions. It seems that there is too much bureaucracy or in my opinion the policy position may be to leave it as it is to downsize the Publc Sector. This is the position of Neoliberal advisers such as the IMF and their structural adjustment/New Public Management policy.

    • There is no union that covers contract workers, essentially. There are some where the union might take your issue if they know you, you have connections, if they think they can benefit… the psa and the workers’ union. but Contract Workers have no union. Another ripe open opportunity that would start with a class action suit

    • Legislation is needed to bring government in line with the Private sector with HR policies and procedures for adjudication of disputes.

    • Maven Huggins…any worker can join any union of their choice-unless they have an RMU.

    • Lester Logie…daily paid workers can be ‘acting’ in a higher position for decades, but when they retire, they retire on benefits of substantive position because the corporation they were employed in did not have a position on establishment that they were acting in. Thus losing out on sometimes hundreds of thousands of $ in benefits. Is this right? Why haven’t the establishments for daily and monthly paid workers been updated?

    • what does “joining a union” have to do with getting active representation, an agent, effort and resolve on issues???

      yeah. sigh

    • That is part of reforming the Public Sector. Obsolete positions must be replaced by the relevant ones. The Union has to treat with those issues with the government. There is legislation to deal with those public officers acting for years to receive the benefits of the higher office on retirement. NUGFW should seek parity by getting similar legislation enacted.

    • Maven Huggins…fyi above…51 (5)

    • Nerisha Mohammed unreadable. does not even blow up.

    • Maven Huggins … The post that Nerisha Mohammed shared is taken from the Industrial Relations Act of Trinidad and Tobago. You can Google it. It is Available as a PDF document.

  70. This is very unfortunate. Imagine going to a bank and asking for a loan. This sucks and I know it was quite prevalent under the previous administration as well. Governments use these short term contracts to frustrate those hired by the “other” administration and to clean house. It’s also used as a means of firing poor performers. There’s got to be a more suitable alternative.

    • Ahm…if you were not suitable, then ur performance appraisal should reflect that. Recommend not to renew. Advertise and fill. Not put on short term, hence creating expectation. As for hiring practices, it is up to the public servants (PS) to ensure fair and transparent process. If there is evidence/proof this wasn’t followed, why are none of them before the IC and various parliamentary committees to answer. If not, then it’s mere speculation.

    • Nerisha Mohammed – you and both know that no one in tnt go to jail for white color crimes?

    • Ihu. Is only so long you can live in hope. After the 1 year anniversary, that went out the door, sorry to say.

  71. What can possibly be the reason for not giving people at least a 2 year contract? Is this practice saving the Gov’tt money? I really don’t understand it but it frustrates employees

    • Especially as there is a process to fill contract positions. The contract can be extended if need be instead of giving short term contracts while awaiting approval, which should not take forever. At the very least, a one year contract.

    • Thanks Mel Lissa, I was wondering if to contribute , and for what purpose. but this has nothing to do with now, a recession, or the ministry of education.

      This has been the norm since I returned home in 2003.

      Further to that, there are a host of ills that plague contract workers which the govt moved to about the same time I returned home as well. That is a form of slavery as well. like share cropping, you never get anywhere, even if you get paid immense amounts of money because the next dispensation, you sucking salt and if you were smart you living off of what you saved from the last. like me/

      There are people who have contracts for three and more years and the system thieves you of your gratuity. i have not received mine from 2010, $152K!!!

      Finally, getting these longer contracts are not a panacea or that better off. We cannot go and get normal life loans that are part of living and functioning: house, land, business. you can get one of those exploitative car loans though to profile the land with

      IF anyone ever cared to and put out a public notice to hear horror stories of contract workers in TT from 2003 – 2016, one will be shocked and surprised.

      And that needs to be done.
      Excellent Class Action Suit. that i have not been able to find a lawyer with either sense, vision or balls to enact and pursue.

      and it is sad that people are forced to grovel, and take what works against them as opposed to nothing at all/

      slavery and sharecropping are not far descriptions at all

    • Yes
      I know as I was there as well.

  72. This has been going on in several government Ministries for years.
    National Security, Arts & Multiculture (or whatever it’s being called now), Finance, to name a few

  73. One modern slave present and accounted for.

  74. The words ‘modern’ and “Ministry of Education” just don’t seem to correlate at all ….

  75. Lasana Liburd…note…the Minister of Labour herself has admitted in Parliament during the budget debate that there are a number of contract officers at the Ministry. What are they doing about this blatant abuse of contract work after almost 15 months? If the job continues, then create or fill the public service position. Do not form committees to tell you common sense. Smh.

  76. So why did they sign the contract?

  77. Education needs to be fixed from the top down. If only I can expatiate more.