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posted 18 Jan 2017, 18:49 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 18 Jan 2017, 19:00 ]
Michael Annisette, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) wrote the following undated letter to trade unions.

Following a meeting of the Executive Committee of NATUC on 06/01/2017, we were mandated to write to you with respect to the disturbing report which was brought to our attention by our member union, the SWWTU. The SWWTU has informed the NATUC that allegations of sexual misconduct have been levelled against Mr. Rolph Balgobin, Chairman of Angostura Holdings Limited by a senior female manager.

It has been further revealed, that for over a period of ten years and over a span of several organisations, allegations of sexual harassment has been made against Rolph Balgobin by several women.

We in the NATUC are very concerned with the negative impact of the allegations on the company and the wellbeing of the workers, particularly because the company is one of the few local businesses that operate at a domestic, regional and international level. With the reputation of the company already affected by the newspaper reports that the Company is in breach of the European Union's rules of origin about rum blending integrity, these allegations levelled at the Chairman have the potential to bring the company and the Board into disrepute locally and internationally. Further, we strongly condemn any harassment of employees, sexual or otherwise at any level of the organization.

The NATUC supports the view of the SWWTU that the nature of these allegations is particularly disturbing and the matter should be dealt with swiftly. In so doing, care should be taken to secure and maintain both the public and employees confidence in the Board and the company. Since these allegations speak to personal behavior and unbecoming conduct, we are of the view that it should not be allowed by extension/ association to tarnish the image and brand of the company which is a public listed company that operates in the domestic, regional and international arena. These allegations can detract from the company and have already begun to do so since the position of Chairman is the highest position in the company.

In light of the foregoing, the NATUC supports our affiliated union the SWWTU and is calling for the resignation of Mr. Balgobin, or at the very least, that he demits his position and refrains from attending all meetings of the Board of Angostura until there is an independent and transparent investigation into these allegations. The issue of corporate governance cannot be swept under the table and for the Chairman to continue to perform his duties under these circumstances, would be sending the wrong message and will tarnish the image of the Board and its members.

We are seeking your support in this respect and by asking you to write to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago and the Minister of Finance, requesting that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago act to either request the resignation or alternatively revoke the appointment of Mr. Balgobin as Chairman of Angostura Holdings until the matter has been conclusively determined.

The NATUC believes that transparency and accountability go hand in hand and should be of high relevance for any company or organisation. We believe that until these allegations are refuted, it would be principled on the part of Mr. Balgobin to vacate the position of Chairman.

We look forward to your staunch support and solidarity. We take this opportunity to also invite you to support our online petition at: