Trinidad Elections: Boycott over race rant by relative of Ramsaran Dairy Products

— ‘Racist’ rant online leads to firing, products removed from stores…

A rant on social media deemed to be racist and highly offensive has led to the firing of a close family member and employee of popular drinks manufacturer Ramsaran’s Dairy Products, as well as a mass boycott of the products.

The Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago has urged its 300-plus members to “immediately” boycott the brand.

Five supermarkets—Massy Stores, Xtra Foods, Persad’s D’ Food King, JTA and West Bees—confirmed yesterday they were pulling Ramsaran’s products from their shelves “with immediate effect”.   

 

Ramsaran’s Dairy Products, loca­ted at the Trincity Industrial Estate, is an over-70-year-old company that manufactures an assortment of dairy and fruit drinks.

The backlash against the company stemmed from comments on Facebook made by Naila Ramsaran, an accountant with the company and family member, following the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) victory at the polls on Monday.

She wrote, “Let us the hard-working UNC supporters continue to pay taxes and mind the loafers that support the PNM. We really live in a bleddy banana republic yes. I hope Rowley starts putting contraceptives in their water supply yes because these cockroaches keep populating and the only thing they know how to do is vote.”

The apology

After social media outrage, Ram­saran apologised to her family and customers in a Facebook post, saying, “To clarify the context of the screen shots, they were posted out of anger and in response to years of racial discrimination and criminal acts against myself and my family in the last few years. I understand that this does not justify my reaction but I do hope that you accept my apo­logy and respect my family and their business’ privacy by not defaming them or the business.

“I appreciate everyone who reached out to me and engaged in a discussion as to why this comment was hurtful/racist. I am truly apologetic and have learnt the impact my words have had.”

However, the apology did not sit well with some members of the public.

An online petition has since been started, calling on Government and the Ministry of Education to remove Ramsaran’s products from the school feeding programme.

Calls were also made on social media for consumers to boycott the products and for supermarkets to pull the products from their shelves, which began yesterday.

Supermarkets Association calls for boycott

Those boycott calls did not fall on deaf ears.

The Supermarkets Association, which comprises between 300 and 350 members, urged members to boycott all Ramsaran’s products “until such time that the company seeks the appropriate remedial action, in a consistent and satisfactory manner”.

In a statement, SATT’s president, Rajiv Diptee, said the association had taken note of the “very deroga­tory” statements made by a member of the Ramsaran family.

“These divisive and inflammatory comments do not belong in our multi-ethnic society. We recognise that given the rich diversity of cultures and ethnicities in our cosmopolitan nation that these actions will not be tolerated,” he said.

Massy Stores, Xtra Foods and Persad’s D’ Food King and West Bees announced in statements yesterday that after listening to their customers, as “responsible” citizens and retailers, they were removing the products from their shelves and temporarily suspending orders, with immediate effect.

Employee – “a close family member of the owners” – fired

Ramsaran’s subsequently announced in a media statement that it had fired “a close family member of the owners” of the organisation.

“Ramsaran’s Dairy Products wish­es to unequivocally state that such views expressed by the family member which were widely publicised are not in any way whatsoever reflective of the views and beliefs of our small business,” the company said.

“The company’s history and traditions have always been steeped in equality and respect for every person irrespective of religion, creed, race or belief. Given these unfortunate developments, we have taken urgent and active steps to part ways with the employee and author of the subject comments and statements, the content of which cannot and will not be tolerated by us,” it added.

The company said while the employee could not speak on its behalf, even by association, it must “unreservedly extend our apologies nationwide and to all those who have been impacted by the statements which were utterly unacceptable and reprehensible”.

Ramsaran products being removed from Giant Supermarketin Port-of-Spain. Trinidad

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