An investigation into the conduct of CEPEP regional coordinator Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins is expected to be completed this week and a decision by management will be forwarded to the board of directors for deliberation.
In a media conference at CEPEP’s head office in Ste Madeleine on Tuesday, chairman Ashton Ford said that Rawlins remains on suspension but continues to collect his $10,000 monthly salary.
Rawlins, the holder of several National Calypso Monarch titles, found himself in trouble last month when a video circulated on social media which showed him driving the company’s pickup while cursing a passenger of another vehicle. During the quarrel, the passenger could be heard telling Rawlins to stop driving while he is on the phone.
Rawlins has since defended his actions, saying that he was responding to racial remarks. The passenger, in a media report, said that he did not know it was Rawlins and did not want him to lose his job. On Tuesday, Ford said that Rawlins has already given his statement to an investigator, a former police officer now employed with CEPEP.
So far, the passenger in the video has not made a report and Ford said the investigator will seek to get his side of the story as it is crucial to the investigation.
Although he could not speak further on the investigation as it was ongoing, Ford responded to Princes Town MP Barry Padarath who questioned how Rawlins was employed by CEPEP.
Padarath said that he would write to the Equal Opportunities Commission and use the Freedom of Information Act to determine this. He added that Rawlins owed the country an apology for his behaviour and should have been fired.
Ford explained that a vacancy for regional coordinators was advertised in the newspapers and on the company’s website in 2018.
On July 9, Rawlins applied for the job, he was short-listed and was ranked third in the interview.
A recommendation to the board of directors was made by the company’s Human Resource Committee and Rawlins was among those hired. Ford said that as a lawmaker, Padarath should be aware or seek guidance from his political colleagues on the industrial relations laws that CEPEP is guided by when workers have to be disciplined.
He said Rawlins was a citizen, who was entitled like everyone else to be hired and like all employees, be subjected to the company’s disciplinary procedures.
Nonetheless, he read from a Staff Performance Assessment (SPA) on Rawlins which showed that he was an excellent worker. In five of six categories, Rawlins scored 2's, which meant excellent and in one category, he got a 1, which stood for outstanding. However, upon closer inspection, the name on the SPA that Ford held in his hand was done for acting operations supervisor Matthew Kailah.30.
“We took care of the process and we took care of the facts so that those who want to peddle misinformation may continue to do so but we have the facts here. Unlike what some radio talk show hosts said this morning, that we have a story to tell. We don’t have a story to tell, we have the facts to present to the people of this country,” Ford said.
Rawlins has sung many pro-PNM calypsoes over the years, but Ford said it played no part in his recruitment, noting the calypsonian also sang against the party last year.
While listing the terms and conditions of Rawlins' employment, he said fellow calypsonian Edwin “Crazy” Ayoung, whom he said sang against the PNM, was employed as a consultant for CEPEP during the UNC tenure for a monthly salary of $8,500 with favourable conditions and no indication of what were his roles and functions.
Reporter: Kevon Felmine