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Dockers threaten January shutdown

By Renuka Singh

Port workers may walk off the job again in early January if the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) does not put an offer on the table by next Thursday.

Michael Annisette, president of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU), said he was supposed to meet with executives from the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT) on Thursday, but the meeting was postponed.

Annisette said PATT management received no guidelines from the CPO and as such could not put forward any new figures, which he said signalled a level of disrespect to the workers. The meeting was postponed to next Thursday.

"Dockers are not prepared to the CPO's failure in the future," he said in a text message to the Express yesterday.

Annisette said he could not guarantee work at the port if this level of disrespect continued.

"We have agreed to wait until next Thursday, however, if the conclusion of the negotiations is not treated with the seriousness it deserves," he said.

He said the dock workers would "react in a like manner" if the CPO's offer is not on the table by next Thursday.

Two weeks ago, Annisette and the PATT settled on the wages and salaries but refused to disclose the settlement figure until the entire negotiation is finalised.

"We have several cost items still outstanding," he said.

Port management said they did not believe the negotiations would be settled even by next Thursday, but expected to have an offer on the table by then.

Transport Minister Devant Maharaj, who presided over the first signing and got involved in stalled negotiations after port shut downs, is out of the country until January 3.

In a text message on Thursday he said he was not sure why there were no guidelines from the CPO.

Security at the CPO's office said it was closed until next Tuesday.

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