Garcia said on Tuesday that his ministry’s legal department is looking into “whether the actions of teachers who took part in the protest outside the St Madeleine Secondary School on Monday, were calculated to bring the school into disrepute.” In response to Garcia’s statement, Doodhai said Garcia should know better.
“He would have led picket demonstrations and he should know that they are allowed under the law and that is the right of the worker to picket the employer on issues affecting terms and conditions.
But if the minster wants to go down that road, we are standing thoroughly behind the teachers and we will defend them against any possible disciplinary charges.” Doodhai also said, “That is their right to explore their legal options, but I want to point out that the teachers were picketing during their lunch period - 11:35am to 12:35pm. They were not on duty and did not abscond from duty to come and picket. The last time I checked the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, peaceful picketing is allowed and the general council of TTUTA and teachers at the school were engaged in peaceful picketing.” TTUTA officials and approximately ten of the school’s teachers protested outside the school gates on Monday calling for the temporary removal of its Principal Joy Arjoon- Singh pending an investigation into several allegations against her. Garcia’s answer was that the power to remove the Principal was in the hands of the Teaching Service Commission. To this, Doodhai said Garcia was engaging in a game of “semantics” because he had the power to make a recommendation for her removal to the commission through his permanent secretary.
Speaking briefly with Newsday yesterday, Garcia said “I am not going to recommend that someone is removed unless there are grounds for their removal, and that can only come through an investigation.” Asked whether he intends to take legal action against the protesting teachers, Garcia said he had not yet received the report from his legal department.