Saturday, January 20, 2018

Racism at the UTT

Lecturer claims he’s a victim...


ONE-Man fight: Burton Baptiste, a full-time instructor II at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) stages a one-man protest outside the Tarouba campus yesterday. —Photo: TREVOR WATSON

Mark Fraser

A LECTURER at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) is claiming he is facing race discrimination in the workplace.

Burton Baptiste, a full-time instructor II, protested yesterday outside two UTT campuses at Pt Lisas and San Fernando saying he has been unjustly demoted from his rightful position as a research associate.

Baptiste who began his series of protests in front UTT’s campus in Scarborough, Tobago said he will continue to protest until his concerns were addressed. He said, “I was hired in a job since 2007. After a series of victimisation attempts I was demoted in 2008. I have some East Indian colleagues I worked alongside and the investigation uncovered that I was not being paid the correct salary. I was being paid below the minimum although I am the qualified one. Whilst they are not qualified, they were paid more than me.”

He added, “And this has been going on for the last seven-and-a-half years. They (UTT) have no explanation for any of the actions that have been taken against me.” Burton said, “I have been given enough of a run around. I have been given a letter by the VP (vice president) of HR (Human Resources) promising to address all my concerns but to be honest it seems as though everything is just a bunch of talk and I am fed up of the talk. I want to see action.”

Burton, who has a Master’s degree in Oil and Gas Exploration and Production, teaches students pursuing a certificate in Applied Engineering. He claimed another staff member was promoted to senior instructor although he did not have the requirement of a master’s degree.

Burton said, “I was getting the right salary for Instructor II but not the right salary for the research associate. I had an East Indian colleague who was not qualified, she was getting $3,000 more than I was and she does not have a master’s.

The job requires a master’s.” Chairman of UTT’s Board of Governors, Curtis Manchoon, said yesterday he was aware of the issue but the actions took place under the previous board. Manchoon who is on vacation and out of the country directed questions to UTT Prof Dyer Narinesingh who was unable to give an immediate comment.