T&T commission hears of foreigner getting twice the pay of local

(Trinidad Express) Petrotrin engineer Derek Salandy yesterday appeared before the first sitting of the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC).

Salandy, represented by attorney Shankar Bidaisee, has challenged the State enterprise’s hiring of a Venezuelan national and allegedly paying him twice the salary of a local in the same position.

At the first tribunal sitting yesterday at the EOC’s office at Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, chairman Rajmanlal Joseph listed the dates for the second hearing of the case of alleged discrimination against Petrotrin and an alleged contravention of the company’s internal hiring practices.

Bidaisee said his client worked as a process engineer supervisor at Petrotrin and has been employed there in various capacities for 31 years.

In April 2007 however, in contravention of the requisite hiring procedures, Bidaisee alleged a Venezuelan national was brought in to work parallel to Salandy, but at almost twice the salary, perks and additional benefits.

“The question is how that person came into Petrotrin. I mean, it’s a complete and utter contravention of the regulations,” Bidaisee said.

He said Salandy had meetings with the company within the ensuing years, attempting to equalise the parallel positions, but after the talks fell apart, he felt compelled to approach the issue legally.

“He couldn’t take it anymore and filed his complaint here,” he said, adding that at one point, even though they shared a similar job title, the foreign national was reporting to Salandy, despite being in a higher pay grade.

Bidaisee quoted Section 42 (2F) of the Petrotrin Regulations which outlined the local advertising and hiring process of the company.

The Commission’s initial report on its investigation began in 2010. The EOC wrote to then Petrotrin chairman Malcolm Jones requesting pertinent information, including copies of the terms and conditions of the hiring, the advertisements for the post, educational information for both Salandy and the foreign national and information as to why he was hired instead of a local.

When the Commission did not recieve a reply three months later, it wrote to Petrotrin’s then president Kenneth Allum requesting the same.

The information was subsequently supplied.

The case will be heard on July 26, where Senior Council Russell Martineau will argue for Petrotrin.

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