Trinidad and Tobago immigration worker, Joseph Ronalds, who was dismissed from his job at the Miami Consulate on September 7 over the issue of qualifications, plans to take his case to the Industrial Court.
Ronalds, 50, who was employed as a Clerical Support Officer (CSO) of the Immigration Office by the Consulate in April, 2010, told the Express yesterday, "I will have to come to Trinidad and get an industrial lawyer and take my case to the Industrial Court."
He described his firing by Consul General Dr Anil Ramnanan which was reported in this week's Sunday Express as "ridiculous".
Originally from Woodbrook, Ronalds said when he applied for the job, he was interviewed and hired on the basis of his experience as a Grade 111 Customs Clerk with over 25 years of experience, and no issue was made over his lack of GCE O'levels.
"It is passing strange that 18 months into my contract I was fired on the basis that I failed to provide evidence of my qualifications," he said.
Ramnanan, in his dismissal letter to Ronalds, invoked his powers of "summary dismissal" and sent Ronalds packing with immediate effect stating that Cabinet Minute No. 149 of 2010 indicated that qualifications are a fundamental and or minimum requirement for employment.
The Consul General has since refused to comply with a memorandum from the acting permanent secretary (PS) in the Ministry of National Security, Sandra Lynch, that Ronalds should be reinstated, and has threatened to take Lynch to the Prime Minister.
Ronalds said yesterday that he had written to the PS in National Security (ministry) and the PS in the Foreign Affairs (ministry) about his situation.
"I am a very conscientious worker, and have performed efficiently during my employment, so much so that Dr Ramnanan commended me in my performance appraisal in September last year," he said. On the basis of this, a recommendation was made that Ronalds' contract be extended.
Three days after Ronalds was fired, Head of Chancery, Joanna Ross, in a letter dated September 10 to PS Lynch and Ambassador to Washington, Dr Neil Parsan, indicated that she was never notified about his dismissal. She also confirmed that the fired employee had submitted a report complaining about victimisation.
She pointed out that the Mission was severely understaffed and pointed to an earlier instance when another worker, administrative assistant Derick Jaikaran was fired, also without her knowledge. She also added that another worker had resigned and a third was due to go on maternity leave.
"With the sudden termination of Mr Ronalds, the effective operation of the section has been placed under further pressure," Ross added.
Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran says he is aware of the situation and is monitoring it.