PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – Former prime minister Basdeo Panday says he is examining his legal options after he was evicted from a building in Central Trinidad he had been occupying for several decades.
“I have been occupying that office for several years now. The Basdeo Panday Charitable Foundation, which seeks to help poor people with their problems, have been operating from there,” he said, noting that he was in the building up until Wednesday, but when his secretary reported for work on Thursday, she found a chain on the door.
President of the All Trinidad General Workers Trade Union, Nirvan Maharaj, said he is unapologetic about having to evict Panday from the union’s Rienzi Complex building.in Couva. He said Panday, who once headed the union, when it was called All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union, has unpaid rental fees estimated at half a million dollars dating back to 2012.
“Mr Panday is owing the …union $500,000. Now I love and respect Mr Panday for his contribution to this country but I have a fiduciary duty to the membership of this union and like all other unions like PSA, SWWTU we have to use our assets to ensure the union’s survival because remember it’s a TT$10 membership per week, and that alone can’t keep the union surviving after we would have lost over 15,000 members,” he added.
But Panday, who served as prime minister here from 1995-2001, speaking on a radio programme here, said “for some time now we realise that the union has become very money hungry and they have been trying to extract from the charitable foundation several thousands of dollars.
“This is one of their methods of doing it by claiming we are their tenants,” Panday said, adding that the matter is now with his lawyers.
In July 2016, the union evicted the main opposition United Nationals Congress (UNC) after it failed to pay increased rental fees. The rent was raised from $12,000 to $25,000 per month. – CMC