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Laid off NICH staffers say they were victims of incompetent management

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Posted: Thursday, June 18, 2020. 11:37 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: A trio of prominent now-former staff members of the National Institute for Culture and History (NICH) say they were “victimized for speaking up about our concerns regarding NICH’s management” by its president, Sapna Budhrani.

Officially, NICH says it had to cut costs due to declining revenues as a result of less activity due to COVID-19.

But Karen Vernon, Suzette Zayden and Jackie Castillo along with senior administrator Teresita Torres say they were singled out for not initially agreeing to the 50 percent salary cut first proposed by Budhrani at the end of April and for generally being thorns in her side.

While conceding that NICH would not be spared from the wrath of the Covid-19 economic fallout, the women say they were prepared to ride out the economic storm – and just about all staff agreed to the cut and other proposals presented by Budhrani. They had only insisted on staff appraisals to guide potential redundancies if after June NICH’s financial performance had not improved.

They consider it a farce that their terminations are being blamed on COVID-19 when the truth, according to them, is they are scapegoats for Budhrani’s “autocratic” management which saw the internal auditor fired and other key positions not filled, leaving workers at her mercy.

So they were blindsided to find out that they were terminated without such appraisals on Monday evening, and without any other kind of due process. And they do not believe the 6 percent cuts will be enough to save NICH.

The quartet publicly appealed to Minister for Culture Patrick Faber to intervene.

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