Allegations of corruption have prompted 60 employees at state-owned National Quarries (NQ) to sign a petition calling for Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine to remove chairman Mitra Ramkhelawan.
The petition, dated October 23, was sent to Ramnarine’s offices and a copy was sent to the Express.
However, the Express understands that Ramnarine is out of the country and he did not respond to an e-mail query for comment.
The employees are unequivocal in their “dissatisfaction of the obvious mismanagement and alleged corruption occurring at our organisation”.
“Mr Ramnarine, our company is important to us. We are disappointed in this new regime’s treatment of us and in the handling of the assets of the company. The wash plants are in complete disrepair with numerous alternations being done to them and a lack of spares to care for them. The ponds and silt drains are all completely filled and are an environmental nightmare. Morale among staff is at an all time low as we are all fearful to voice our opinions on anything since we have seen the repercussions of doing so,” the letter stated.
The employees have taken issue with Ramkhelawan’s comments about them in an interview with the Express on September 17.
Ramkhelawan had said the company was hamstrung by its union, the Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers.
“Trade unions are in the group of disgusting human beings in Trinidad and Tobago. We have put them in court. They struck illegally,” he had said.
And while Ramkhelawan had acknowledged that at least 80 per cent of the employees at NQ were good people, “the 20 per cent are lousy, low-grade, low-down people who are very unproductive and they are the ones in the unions”.
Ramkhelawan had said he was unconcerned about how statements like that could impact on employee morale.
“Our disgust with the way we are treated has been endorsed by the workers who have signed the attached petition. Of the seventy plus permanently employed workers, sixty have opted to sign this petition. Those who did not sign are either on vacation or afraid to sign for fear of being victimised should the list reach the chairman or certain management bodies at National Quarries,” the letter stated.
The employees identified several reasons why they are petitioning Ramnarine to have the chairman and board removed:
1. Numerous questions and allegations arising from disclosures made in daily publications.
2. Hiring, suspension and firing of employees without proper methods of HR or valid qualifications to hold key positions.
3. Conflicting statements being made by members of the board, allegations of falsifying and destroying company records.
4. No accountability for materials leaving both Turure and Blanchisseuse quarry.
5. Poor management of the quarrying operations, no management in key positions — no Human Resource Manager, no Operations Manager, No Financial Comptroller, No Commercial Manager, No Health and Safety Manager
6. Disrespect for employees by the Chairman of the Board.
“We have no confidence in the abilities of the board to manage our organisation in a profitable or efficient manner to the benefit of all,” the petition ended.
The Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) has taken issue with Ramkhelawan’s comments and had called for his removal . The union has also condemned the Government’s failure to act on the matter. The lobby group Fixin T&T has also called on the Prime Minister, Ramnarine and Ramkhelawan to answer questions of alleged corruption and mismanagement at the company.