TUTTA president Martin Lum Kin – File photo
The Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers Association (TTUTA) has said it is flabbergasted by the “unceremonious dismissal” of former Industrial Court president Debra Thomas-Felix. Weighing in on her controversial removal, TTUTA head Martin Lum Kin said the way it was done and the hasty appointment of her successor, Heather Seale, were downright disrespectful.
He said if the decision-makers did not respect the individual holding the office, they ought to have respected the office itself.
“This situation raises more question than answers,” Lum Kin said, asking why, when she had indicated her willingness to continue to serve, Thomas-Felix was told of the decision not to renew her contract two days before it expired, and while she was on court business in Geneva, Switzerland.
“The lady’s contract was not up as yet, and you instal someone else.
“It means that we had two presidents of the Industrial Court on Wednesday, because her term expired on Thursday.”
He endorsed the call by his colleagues in the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) for the reason or reasons for the non-renewal of her contract to be made public.
Lum Kin said the experienced Thomas-Felix was always fair in her judgments and gave deliberations which were very knowledgeable.
Thomas-Felix did not respond to calls. She is due to return to the country on Saturday.
President Christine Kangaloo swore in Seale on Wednesday in spite of a letter from JTUM asking her to reconsider her decision not to renew Thomas-Felix’s contract.
PSA president Leroy Baptiste and NATUC’s Michael Annisette independently expressed concern about Kangaloo’s husband, Kerwyn Garcia, SC, representing Government’s interest in a number of matters that had been partly heard by Thomas-Felix.
They made particular reference to one involving the wage negotiations of the National Insurance Board (NIB), in which Garcia is lead counsel.
“This is a big one. I believe that matter was part heard before Thomas-Felix. I don’t know how that would work out now,” Baptiste said.