Saturday 15th October, 2005

 

HDC to axe 500 workers

 
 
 
 
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BY COREY CONNELLY

It may be a newly-restructured organisation, but the Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is already offering Voluntary Separation of Employment (Vsep) packages to its all of its 1,100 workers and it is expected that the company will be downsized by 50 per cent.

The recent prospectus of the three-tranche $1.4 billion bond that will be used to finance house construction states, “With the restructuring of the Authority, the following is expected to be achieved: The downsizing of the organisation by 50 per cent.”

Housing Minister Dr Keith Rowley, in making the VSEP announcement yesterday, stressed that employees would not be coerced into accepting the offer.

“We are offering, as part of our approach to public sector housing and the coming into being of the HDC, a voluntary separation programme, and I emphasise the word voluntary,” he said during a function to install the members of the HDC board at its South Quay, Port-of-Spain, office, yesterday.

“Nobody will be trampled upon. Nobody will be dragged, pushed or intimidated. It will be voluntary.”

Rowley said the HDC’s staff would not be offered anything less than what other workers in the country were receiving.

“In fact, it is an enhanced Vsep we are offering,” he added.

The HDC, which replaced the National Housing Authority, was proclaimed on October 1 to effectively manage the housing sector.

Human resource management expert Noel Garcia, who was the CEO of the NHA, has been appointed managing director (designate) of the HDC.

The minister said the HDC’s staffers would be given the opportunity to decide if they want to stay or accept the Vsep offer.

“I am pretty sure that some people may want to leave us and at the appropriate time, we will say farewell and thank you,” Rowley said, adding that those who decide to stay on with the company will do so with the knowledge that we are “moving on to higher heights.”

Rowley told his audience, which included NUGFW president general Robert Giuseppi, that the new structure will require “a bit more muscle, a bit more brainpower of its employees.”

“It doesn’t matter which part you play, it will be an important part,” he said.

Speaking after the simple ceremony, Rowley said about 40 per cent of employees at the NHA had expressed an interest in accepting a Vsep package.

“Preliminary work has shown that 40 to 50 per cent of the workers were interested at that time. About 40 per cent might be expected,” he told reporters.

The HDC has approximately 1,100 employees.

Earlier, Rowley said the NHA was restructured because it lacked accountability.

“There are a lot of things that did not go right in the NHA and one of those things had to do with accountability,” he said.

“The HDC is not going to function like that. We are required by law to have the accounts ready in a certain period of time.

“The CEO will be held accountable and the Cabinet will hold the minister accountable and the Parliament will hold the Cabinet accountable. That is what the HDC means.

Andre Monteil (chairman)
Francis Charles (deputy chairman)
Noel Garcia (managing director)
Geoffrey Herrera
Clifton Winchester
Krishna Kantasingh
Hazel Rogers-Dick
Rajnath Chankar

 

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