United National Congress (UNC) activist and executive director in the ministry of the people and social development, Barrington ‘Skippy’ Thomas, was fired from his job on Monday on the instructions of the prime minister, reportedly for being “untenable and disgusting”.
In a telephone interview with Caribbean News Now, Thomas confirmed that he was dismissed and the instructions to fire him came directly from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
Thomas posted some of the details of what transpired on his Facebook page.
“I went to work today and was told by Glenn Ramadharsingh, the prime minister told him that I am untenable and disgusting and that my services are no longer required,” Thomas posted.
Thomas said he heard rumours of a plan to relieve him from the post, and reported that it was while he was at the Hard Rock restaurant in St Helena, the minister walked into the restaurant with a UNC financier and laughed with him and hugged him up and told him rumours of intentions to dismiss him (Skippy) were not true and how that is “ole talk” and they want him continue on the job. He also read out a text message he got from minister in the ministry of the people and social development Vernela Alleyne-Toppin telling him that she was not accepting his resignation.
The former executive director compared his experience to Persad-Bissessar’s own experience under the Basdeo Panday-led UNC administration. Thomas reminisced to the Express the prime minister’s story, which she described at the UNC Monday night forum, about her own firing from the attorney general position at the time.
Persad Bissessar told the crowd that she heard rumours of a plan to fire her from the AG post and, when she asked Panday about it, he assured her it was not true, but she was in fact later stripped of the post.
Thomas said his experience was exactly the same. He said he heard rumours that he was going to be fired since last Friday and decided to tender his resignation –which People and Social Development Minister Glenn Ramardharsingh refused to accept. Then on Monday, when he reported for work, Ramardharsingh told him about the decision to relieve him of the post.
When asked if he was planning to join the ILP (Jack Warner’s new political party) Thomas said he is taking a couple days to cool his head and does not want to make any irrational decisions.
But he had a message for Ramadharsingh.
“He seems to forget that I was in the belly of his system and know all his business; when I ready, I go talk,” Thomas said.
Caribbean News Now contacted Ramadharsingh on this development and he would say only that the matter has been sorted out and it was a misunderstanding.
“It’s something that has been there, it was a miscommunication about words used and who said what and what was gleaned from a conversation in the environment of a lot of things happening. There was a miscommunication,” he said.
The minister was asked three times if Thomas was indeed fired, but Ramadharsingh maintained his position.
“There was not an issue. Mr Thomas is a member of the UNC national executive; he is working for the government with the government. It has been settled, the matter has been sorted out re the Facebook posting and he is working for the government,” the minister reiterated.
Thomas wants the prime minister to explain what makes him so untenable when in fact he was the lone voice in Tobago for the UNC.
“I ask them were I untenable and disgusting when I was the only person and perhaps still is the only person flying the UNC flag in Tobago,” Thomas continued in his Facebook message about his termination.
“Was I untenable when I engaged in a hunger strike outside the Red House? Was I untenable and disgusting when I prosecuted the Landate Scarborough Hospital Project against Dr Rowley? In the last NATEX election I got an overwhelming mandate with the party members. Roughly 10,000 persons voted for me, more than Suruj Rambachan by the way. I know many of you would say I looked for this but I guess you are right. But I ask prime minister and Dr Ramadharsingh when did I become untenable?”
Thomas started off in the ministry of the people and social development as personal secretary to Ramardharsingh. He later became communication officer of the URP, then manager of the URP social programme. Thomas held the post of executive director, planning, outreach and strategy up to the time of his firing. He has been employed by the ministry for the past two years.
A request to the prime minister for comment remained unanswered at the time of publication.