Senate Vice President Nigel De Freitas.
Soliciting gifts from members of the public breaches the code of conduct for Trinidad and Tobago Postal Corporation (TTPost) workers. Managing director Francis Delpesh made this comment in response to questions from Senate Vice-President Nigel De Freitas during a virtual meeting of the Local Authorities, Service Commissions and Statutory Authorities Joint Select Committee on Wednesday.
He admitted the practice of people giving gifts to postal workers who deliver their mail has been going on for a long time.
But Delpesh said, “It goes against the code of conduct of TTPost employees.
“Notwithstanding the fact that it has gone on for an extended period, TTPost management at this point in time feels that it should not continue.” Delpesh reminded committee members that TTPost launched an investigation after the issue was raised last month by Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales.
“Once it’s completed, it will go before the board of directors and we will take it from there.”
While people were free to offer gifts to the postal workers who serve them, Delpesh said TTPost will discourage its employees from accepting such gifts. He reiterated that this is an act “that we intend to stop with immediate effect.”
He said the question of people not being served by TTPost workers if they do not give them gifts does not arise, because the company’s workers are responsible individuals.
De Freitas asked why TTPost was only now looking to stop this practice.
Delpesh replied, “The horse had bolted before the stable doors were closed.”
He also reminded committee members that TTPost issued a circular last month on soliciting gifts from members of the public.
In a statement on December 28, 2021, Gonzales said, ““This solicitation is illegal and reprehensible and must cease immediately.”
He added, “In condemning such professional behaviour, I want to strongly urge those who are engaging in such illegal activity to immediately desist, and to further warn that strong disciplinary action will be taken against offenders.”
Gonzales mandated TTPost’s board and management to investigate this matter which could constitute a breach of Section 24 (1) of the Integrity in Public Life Act, which forbids public officials and employees to use their office for their own private gain.
Postal Workers Union general secretary David Forbes subsequently demanded an apology from Gonzales.
“Those workers would work specific routes for the year, and as an appreciation of their service, householders would give a token of appreciation.”
He said it has never been mandatory for the public to give anything.
Forbes said the practice began over 35 years ago, when members of the public would ask for an envelope to leave a token of their appreciation.
In response to Forbes’ comment, Gonzales said, “I have no problem with any customer appreciating their postal worker and giving them a bottle of wine or ponche de crème, as the case may be – but leave it up to the customer.
“To make that contribution by leaving empty envelopes to solicit donations is highly unethical, dangerous and not to be encouraged in any sector, because it opens the door for other unethical practice whereby you cannot make the distinction between a gift or a bribe.”