There is a common reason why the salary of TSTT boss Ronald Walcott and ousting of Basdeo Panday from his office are grating on the country’s nerves.
They both don’t smell right to the common man.
Walcott is toting home more than $200,000 a month in salary and perks while profits of the telecommunications firm slumped by 80 per cent in its most recent fiscal year, customer offices have been closed and more than 500 workers have been sent home.
The company’s rough-taking chairman Robert Mayers had justified the retrenchment on employee costs amounting to 40 per cent of total bills, compared to an industry average of 25 per cent.
Maybe Mayers hasn’t sensed the irony of the CEO being paid a staggering sum in the midst of the company’s financial hellhole and its well-known operational inefficiencies.
But the selfsame chairman warned in his most recent statement that “going concerns issues would arise in the very near future” if TSTT does not put its financial house right.
In other words, the telecom company could soon be staring bankruptcy – even with a $200,000-a-month boss!
The gross insensitivity of the company – and the government as majority shareholder – is awakened on the frequent occasions when a customer faces hell over the quality of service.
Further, TSTT’s declining financial performance could directly affect investors in National Enterprises Ltd., (NEL), in which the taxpayer-owned share is traded.
Then, there is the ejection of Panday from Rienzi Complex, a building he not only constructed but which is the symbolic base of his struggles for the working class, especially sugar workers.
There is unbounded absurdity in that move.
The current leader of the so-called sugar union, one Nirvan Maharaj, clearly has no appreciation of Panday’s clamour in the 1970s and 1980s on behalf of exploited and underpaid seasonal field and factory workers.
When Panday assumed leadership of the union in 1973, sugar workers were scrimping during the harvest season and feeding their families during off-season on the goodwill of community shopkeepers.
They could afford none of life’s comforts and their children’s education was often compromised.
Panday’s negotiating prowess and the dovetailing of his labour crusade with a political campaign yielded benefits.
He also achieved some reversals in rural neglect.
Yes, his legacy has been botched by cardinal errors, along with his cheerless personality and continuing spat with current leaders of the political party he founded.
But his labour triumphs are almost unrivalled in the post-Butler era, and will define him in history books long after Nirvan Maharaj is forgotten.
Handling of the issue required tact, courtesy and a solution-oriented approach, acknowledging that Panday is a feisty character.
The Walcott and Panday issues typify a country of ceaseless silliness and public farces.
Witness, for example, how Pan Trinbago’s boss Beverly Ramsey-Moore came to office on a pledge to do things differently but is forbidding Exodus from changing its competition song.
Look at the storm-in-a-teacup over the uniform of police boss Gary Griffith.
Examine Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s fulminations over cost overruns even after the massive escalating bills for the Brian Lara Cricket Academy and a number of other public works led to the Uff Commission of Enquiry.
Observe the scrapping of the oncology centre in a country with 3,000 cancer patients each year.
Take note of the continuing elder abuse after the relevant government ministry has been repeatedly alerted to this plague.
Study the fact that in this politically-charged national atmosphere, an anti-corruption bureau was – until this week – reporting to the Attorney General.
Check on how a racist police officer was summarily sacked but some politicians and social media scribes are permitted to pollute our land with unbridled bigotry.
They are all taking place in this theatre of the absurd!