Friday, January 19, 2018

Employees taken by surprise: Govt closes GHRS

Employees of the Government Human Resource Services Company Limited (GHRS) were taken by surprise when the closure of the company was announced during a post-Cabinet news conference on Thursday.
Prior to the announcement, they had no idea they would soon be out of jobs.
Minister of Public Administration and Communications Maxie Cuffie yesterday met with the employees and apologised for the manner in which the decision was conveyed to them.
He said although the closure of the company was being considered for some time, the decision was only taken at Thursday's Cabinet meeting. He however conceded that staff should have been made aware before the announcement.
Cuffie told the employees that since GHRS had employed the “brightest minds”, he was confident they would have no difficulty in landing new jobs.
He said closing the company was difficult and painful decision to make, but a necessary one as the Government could not justify the costs of keeping the company operating, given declining revenue.
“The country could no longer afford to pay approximately $8m every year to GHRS when in the first place we no longer needed to attract persons from abroad and we don't have the funds to pay them,” Cuffie said. Economic woes Cuffie told the employees that when the company was established in 2006 the Trinidad and Tobago economy grew by 7.7 per cent which meant the country was in need of additional human resources. He said the Government at the time believed it needed to attract the best minds to Trinidad and Tobago.
“We had the money to employ them and to bring them here. By 2010 the international recession had kicked in, our economic growth had declined and the Government was challenged for funds.
“So in fact from 2010 a decision was made to look at the possibility of closing GHRS. A Cabinet note was drafted but it was never submitted and time went on.”
The Minister said by 2016 the economy had deteriorated drastically and the committee set up to examine the operations of special purpose companies and fully-owned state enterprises identified GHRS as one of the companies the Government did not need. It was recommended that the services offered by GHRS be transferred to the Public Service.
“The Public Accounts Enterprise Committee which is chaired by a member of the Opposition also looked at GHRS and found that it had strayed from its mandate and there needs to be a new vision if the company is to survive,” he said.
He said the board of GHRS looked long and hard at what could be done to save the company. He stressed that the Government would honour employees' contracts and its obligations.
He however urged them to take advantage of the National Employment Service offered by the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development.