LETTER TO THE CHIEF AD
To: Dr. Ellis Burris
Chief Administrator, Tobago House of Assembly.
RE: COMPLAINTS OF DISCRIMINATION OF EMPLOYEE AT DHSS C.E.P.E.P DEPT
This letter serves to inform about several complaints that would have been logged to various heads of department at the Division of Health and Social Service C.E.P.E.P Department.
I Josanne La Toya Brassey hear by wish to inform you of the endless frustration and poor standard of how the issues have been treated. In light of the latest developments which occurred, I was absent from work for two days on April 17 and 18, 2013. I returned to work on April 19, 2013. I informed the Human Resource Assistant, Verna Joseph that due to the severity of my situation I was un able to make it to the doctor to get the medical on Thursday, since it was every five minutes I kept going off to the washroom which resulted from a stale pie I ate on April 16, 2013.
I was told by Ms. Joseph that I cannot sign the attendance register until I present my medical for the two days in which I was absent. On April 22, 2013 I presented my sick leave, Ms. Joseph
Joseph still refused to let me sign the attendance register. She claimed that it is of some new law which indicates that by right she is suppose to let me bring a medical for a day in which I was present at work, whole day.
I may be young but not dumb and as a media student pursuing my degree in Media and Communications at the School of Business and Computer Science. I did my own investigations of the industrial relations act (chapter 88.01) which clearly states that it is not necessary that a worker presents a medical for being absent from work two days due to illness. The law stipulates that if an employee stays away from his/her job for more than three working days then a medical is required.
This information was also confirmed by Kerri Jadoo of the Ministry of Labour, conciliation unit of Trinidad and Tobago. It was also confirmed by the Ministry of Labour staff in Tobago as well.
I have not signed the attendance register since April 19, 2013 due to the government’s book being held at ransom under the Human Resource Assistant’s arm. When the book is not walking up and down under her arm, it’s in her bag on top of her file cabinet. When it’s not there, she has it locked away in her draw and claims it cannot be found. Simply to keep me from signing the register. Ms. Joseph allowed another coworker who she claimed is over in her sick leave by three days to sign for a casual day in which is supposed to be applied for five working days in advance. How could the other worker sign the attendance register without presenting her medical, there is no such thing as saying you allowed the worker to take the day as a personal leave? She claimed that I also was over by five days, now I presented my medical simply to squash the ole talk. Why did Ms. Joseph not apply the same procedure to the other employee and demand that they are to present their medical before signing the register? That is a clear case of discrimination.
Mr. Burris, not only have I been experiencing these childish, relentless encounters at work but I am a completely fed up employee who has had it up to the end of my throat with these none sense. As the bible says thou shall not provoke thy children to wrath is a perfect example of how much I was pushed to the edge. I decided to get my story aired for the public to know what’s really going on behind closed doors.
Not getting to sign the attendance register not only affects my salary for May month, it also affects me as a citizen of Tobago trying to benefit from the Tobago Financial Assistance for Tertiary Education programme. At the back of the form a head of department is suppose to affix their signature and stamp, indicating that they are aware that its class am going and how my particular area of study can be beneficial to Tobago or any other Division of Tobago House of Assembly. I have not been able to take my form back to the Financial Assistance unit due to the matter regarding my requested time off for class being un resolved. The request was done since before August 8, 2011. As a young Tobagonian I should be able to access and benefit from these facilitations.
Numerous complaints were made to the Secretary of Division of Health and Social Services; Mrs. Claudia Groome-Duke who is fully aware of what’s been happening. Other complaints were also made to the Administrator of the Division; Ms. Ethlyn John who has failed to answer and deal with my complaints up to this present day, due to her being friends with the Human Resource Assistant. Hence the reason why Verna Joseph has been doing a lot of wrong on the strength of her friendship with the Administrator. I furthered my complaints in to the hands of the Equal Opportunity Commission, who wrote to the Heads of Division of Health and Social Services, when things escalated in the past with One, Seth Quashie, another Human Resource Assistant who issued letters to other coworkers and myself on the grounds of not having permission to attend our classes. I was also issued letters for being present at work by Seth Quashie while leaving half day or in the afternoon to head to Trinidad for my classes which begins at 5.30 to 8.30pm.
C.E.P.E.P department is now in process of conducting performance of appraisal and granting workers vacation leave. Ms. Joseph has pulled a fast one in sabotaging me from getting a renewal of contract, as she mentioned to me “there will be challenges and it’s not to say anyone is favoring persons”. How ironic is that statement, a transfer out of that department is what I have asked for due to frustrating efforts made by Ms. Joseph to make me get fed up and leave the job. In her aim to achieve such goal, she has taken all the work in which I used to do and has three other new staff doing the same things in which my job specification outlines. How is it that a Receptionist job specification is the same as a Clerical officer 1 and as Secretary? Before the concern was brought to her attention, it was also brought to the Director’s attention who in fact felt that I should not be complaining. She noted to me that due to the organisation getting bigger persons now have to share duties. To my knowledge that is absurd and far from being correct. In regards to that , I sought Guidance from the Public Service Association who in fact stated that is not true and there is no law that says because a person is a contracted employee they cannot get time of to elevate themselves academically.
Mr. Burris my question to you, is if the Tobago House of Assembly and the Division of Health and Social Services implemented new changes in the law of Trinidad and Tobago regarding employee rights? Is there a different regulation for contracted employees that does not coincide with the general Law of Trinidad and Tobago, which I believe have not changed over night?
If so, I would like to know when were the changes made and what date did the bill pass in parliament?
I would like to know why wasn’t a circular being sent around to inform employees, if in fact there has been any such changes? I don’t believe that I should be penalized for the failure of not being aware of any new implementations. These older heads sitting in high positions were the ones who failed to act accordingly with informing their staff and it’s about time that these people abusing the authority of power be held accountable for their actions of un professionalism.
Is it that contracted workers have absolutely no rights and is it that we are suppose to be treated like dogs?
In my investigations it was discovered that discriminating against young people was not a first for Verna Joseph. She has treated three other young women who once worked at C.E.P.E.P the exact same way. I am now victim number four. I also discovered from the time a young person mentions they would like to get time off to attend classes, this woman has a problem. There are other young persons that encountered this problem and had no other option but to leave their job, it happened to a young woman working in the bank as well.
Why should the young people of Tobago have to encounter this kind of atrocity from the older heads who are suppose to be imparting knowledge to better equip us as future leaders of this society we live in.
Often we are being told to make good use of the educational opportunities that we are fortunate to have. As oppose to the older heads not being as fortunate in their time with all these great facilitation that the government now has for its young people.
Some of us are not rich kids who have parents to support us financially while studying. Therefore we have to work to get money to assist us with transportation, books, food etc, since majority of Tobago students has to travel to Trinidad for a higher education.
Indeed it is very sad to see an island of great potential exploiting its young working class students. It is not only a disgrace but very contradicting in the over used statements of politicians extending encouragement to the young people to utilize all the educational opportunities offered to us.
I am calling all authorities of the Tobago House of Assembly to take drastic measures in having these issues resolved, for far too long Verna Joseph and Hughvon Sealey has been getting away with committing offences which are in breach of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.
My main goal with this letter is to ensure that no other young person of Tobago has to experience this level of victimization. Mr. Burris I now leave you to make a wise choice in handling this matter with immediate urgency. I hope after reading this my matter will be solved once and for