Two years before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2018, the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) retrenched 69 lecturers as part of a cost-cutting exercise due to a smaller financial allocation from the national budget.
In 2019, UTT sent home 199 non-teaching staff members in the second wave of retrenchment.
In 2020, there will be a third wave of lay-offs because of a cash deficit of $57 million, excluding expenditures at the Tamana campus.
UTT documents reveal that the recurrent allocation of $180 million cannot even meet salary expenses, much less non-payroll costs.
In this phase of retrenchment, I hope UTT does not replace retrenched staff with unqualified lecturers. This anomaly, committed in 2018, was confirmed in a correspondence to me from the Accreditation Council of Trinidad and Tobago (ACTT) dated August 23, 2019.
The question now is how will UTT pay the millions of dollars for cases pending in court that it is likely to lose for wrongfully selecting certain lecturers for retrenchment through a flawed, arbitrary criterion.
The costs will include: (a) legal costs, (b) aggravated and punitive damages, (c) exemplary damages, and (d) compensation for loss of income with interest.
With the closure of the Valsayn campus last month and Corinth next month, the signs are on the wall that UTT is collapsing financially, structurally and creditably.
Dr Kumar Mahabir