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Howai, Cabrera meet after protest

By Renuka Singh

Representatives from 11 companies under the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) staged a midday protest outside the Ministry of Finance yesterday and secured an impromptu meeting with Minister Larry Howai.

After some three hours protesting the slow pace of State sector negotiations, BIGWU president Vincent Cabrera was called to the meeting at Howai's office.

"We outlined the process going forward. The union will write to him on the 11 outstanding matters of State sector negotiation. He will meet with the CPO (Chief Personnel Officer), it will be taken to Cabinet two Tuesdays from now," Cabrera said.

The protest included representatives from First Citizens, EXIM Bank, Cipriani Labour College, Cariri, Export Centres Company Limited, Deposit Insurance Corporation, La Horquetta Regional Complex, St Jude Home for Girls, Security Exchange Commission and Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance.

"We will give the Minister what he requested but we are not depending on him. There will be more protest action after the two weeks if there is not resolution," said Cabrera.

He said they chose to picket outside Howai's office and not the Chief Personnel Officer's office, even though the negotiations are stalled at the CPO level.

"The Minister of Finance is the CPO's boss and while new Government mouthpieces bashing the CPO, she is employed by the Ministry of Finance," said Cabrera, referring to National Trade Union Centre president Senator James Lambert's recent criticism of the CPO.

"Why beat up on the CPO and not the Minister?" he asked.

Cabrera said among the stalled negotiations, CARIRI had three per cent on the negotiating table, while Cipriani Labour College and Export Centres were at five per cent.

"Instead of the Public Sector Negotiation Committee (PSNC) there is this Inter-Ministerial Committee, so what we really have is six of one, half-dozen of the other," Cabrera said.

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