Sunday, December 17, 2017

...‘An excuse to fire people’



Mark Fraser

Government is merely exporting the policy practised within Trinidad and Tobago to its missions in the United States, whereby it causes people to lose their jobs so that they can be replaced by people whom the administration wants in those positions.

This was the response of Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to the Government’s change in the decades-long policy in the foreign service of having persons working at Trinidad and Tobago’s missions in the US operate in those jobs by virtue of an A2 visa, secured with the assistance of the mission.

Attorney General Anand Ramlogan had ruled that T&T missions in the US must only hire persons who are already resident in the US and entitled to work there.

 Ramlogan said the use of the A2 visa to employ someone who is not legally resident and entitled to work in the US is “improper and unethical” and the practice should cease “with immediate effect”.

 The AG’s ruling puts many jobs in jeopardy at Trinidad and Tobago’s Consulate-General in New York and the embassy in Washington DC.

Rowley said yesterday: “To the best of my knowledge, not only with respect to Trinidad and Tobago, but personnel for other Caribbean islands, for decades have had the facilitation of their embassies for securing the A2 visas under the understanding that they are choosing and support their staff. 

“So this is clearly a change in policy initiated by this Government. I do not know of any complaint from the US authorities or any person being challenged at any of our missions in the US for working improperly with respect to the A2 visa. This appears to be an action of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, who is finding excuses to remove specific personnel from these missions, people who they have been trying to move for quite some time. And now this ruling makes them ineligible to work at the mission. And therefore I see this as the exporting of the policy that the Government has been practising within the  border of Trinidad and Tobago, where they have taken steps under all kinds of ruses to cause people to lose their jobs and be replaced by new persons of the choice of the administration.

 “Some persons were fired willy nilly, but it appears that there were others who were more difficult to be got rid of. And once they get rid of them, they will replace them with persons of their choice, whom they may have already selected for the positions.”

Rowley said it is unfortunate that the new policy was causing nationals to lose their jobs.

He said he would be looking forward to seeing if the attorneys general of our Caribbean neighbours will be making similar rulings and have them enforced against their citizens.

—Ria Taitt