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MIC Instructors abandon classes

By JANELLE DE SOUZA Saturday, April 28 2012

Public Services Association (PSA) general secretary, Nixon Callender, yesterday afternoon warned parents not to send their children to school at Metal Industries Company Ltd (MIC) facilities because they would be unsupervised.

Instructors at MIC facilities have abandoned their classes and made their way to the MIC Centre in Macoya everyday for about four weeks. Callender said exams have been put off until further notice because students have lost over 200 hours of training.

Workers are calling for an 11 percent wage increase. The union has asked for a dollar value of $500 for 2008 plus three percent, $250 plus two percent for 2009 and $250 plus six percent for 2010. In addition, they are asking for a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) of $135 for the first two yeas, $145 for the third year and a lump sum payment of $3,000. MIC’s management is offering five percent. MIC is the provider of industry-specific skills development programmes including Government programmes such as Helping Youth Prepare for Employment (HYPE) and The Multi-Sector Skills Training Programme (MuST).

During a PSA protest at the Financial Towers, Callender claimed MIC management left the negotiating table on Tuesday last without scheduling another meeting. He said the management went to the union and informed them that they (MIC) were under instructions from the inter- ministerial committee, not to accept the union’s proposal.

According to Callender, some skilled, well qualified master craftsmen who are instructors at MIC work for less than Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) labourers. He advised them to seek alternative employment overseas because “MIC will go belly up before we accept anything less.”

Callender also sent a warning to PSA members and MIC workers engaging in conduct against the interest of the struggle. He said, “the PSA eats its own” and said they will be dealt with soon.

At an earlier event, Minister of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education, Fazal Karim, said he was optimistic that negotiations between MIC and the PSA would be resolved soon, as the matter is before the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO).

Karim said it was very unfortunate that the students have been affected by the strike action but was sure, when the matter is resolved, the staff to do as much as possible to help them recover lost time and bring them up to speed with their work. He also pointed out that the exams are set by MIC, therefore, unlike CXC, the dates can be adjusted.

Karim made the remarks to the media after giving the feature address at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) seminar entitled Character, Leadership and Change in Higher Education yesterday morning at the UTT Campus at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA).

During his address, Karim described web-based degree programmes is an “untapped avenue” for tertiary education in the country, as only one percent of degree programmes have a blended learning approach. The approach combines face to face classroom methods with computer-mediated activities to form an integrated instructional approach.

Karim said if Government wants to meet their goal of 60 percent access to higher education by 2015, they will have to focus on web-based learning in addition to building educational institutions. He said the Government is already looking at using technology-based learning to increase access, responsiveness and relevance. Therefore, he will be liaising with the California University of Pennsylvania on how the Ministry can collaborate with them in the use their web- based undergraduate programme.

He told the audience that integrity, trust-worthiness and strength of character are important attributes in life. “It is in fact this resolve or lack thereof, that can either cause the ascension or the demise of many careers or political aspirations,” said Karim. “As individuals, we must all aspire to greatness and find our own direction and moral compass in life.”

Karim said he hoped the seminar would bring about a shift in the way tertiary education is perceived and conducted in the country.



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