Trinidad: Father fears suspension over bringing kids to work

Kevin Julien with his three children yesterday at TTEC’s Flament Street, Port of Spain station yesterday.

(Trinidad Newsday) A supervisor at the TT Electricity Commission (TTEC) is tensely waiting for Monday, to see if he will be suspended for bringing his three children to work with him when he could not find a babysitter yesterday, when schools in Port of Spain were closed for the TT Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) annual National Convention.

Kevin Julien was reportedly chastised by his senior manager and given a disciplinary letter for bringing his children to work with him. Speaking with reporters at an Oilfield Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) press conference at TTEC’s Flament Street station yesterday, Julien, who has four years’ service as a permanent worker, said, “I was really stuck between a rock and a hard place, because last time I stayed home to see about my children, on September 7, I was given a warning letter by management. That’s what caused me to bring them to work with me today.

“I tried explaining to my area manager that my wife is a temporary worker and she could not afford to miss any days of work, but I still got the disciplinary letter.”

September 7 was the day unions called on their members to stay home and “rest and reflect.”

Julien said after speaking with executive vice president of the OWTU Peter Burke, he decided to stay home for the day with his children. Burke said Julien’s treatment was part of a wider intention by TTEC management to suspend staff, and claims that they have been doing so for several weeks.

“This is very poor industrial relations practices on the part of TTEC. All of the workers who have stayed home on September 7 have had very legitimate reasons for staying home.

When Mr Julien stayed home on September 7 to take care of his children, a manager told him in a very flippant and sarcastic way to bring his children to work next time. Well, he did that today, and he still ended up in trouble.”

Burke said fewer than 200 workers have been summoned to disciplinary meetings and he has not received any feedback from the management. He said while he would not want to pre-empt the union’s next step, the OWTU was committed to workers’ protection and would explore all possibilities of redress.

A press release from TTEC yesterday said management was unaware of a planned demonstration at the Flament Street office, but confirmed that at around 8.15 am yesterday an emergency alarm was pulled, prompting an evacuation of staff from the office.

The release did not address the concerns raised by Julien, but described the apparent coincidence between the OWTU’s demonstration and the emergency evacuation as “strange and of serious concern.”

The release also confirmed an investigation has been launched into the incident.

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