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Citizens relieved to find service at passport office

By port of spain - Kim Boodram

THE doors were open until 3 p.m. yesterday at the Frederick Street branch of the Immigration Division in Port of Spain, and as the last of the day’s relieved citizens filtered out, some said they had been “afraid” to show up and find another shut-down.

One Carenage woman said she was pleased when the impasse between Government and the passport office employees appeared to have been somewhat resolved but she remained sceptical about making the journey.

“I was happy that I was able to get service on my appointment date. I
know a lot of people missed theirs,” the middle-aged woman said, “but I was so afraid to take the day off from work and come and find that they had decided to shut down again”.

Several people said they have tried calling ahead for the past week to gauge whether their appointments could be kept but the tele­phones went unanswered.

“I feel that maybe the employees are keeping the service at a minimum until their issues are sorted out,” the woman said.

The Port of Spain and San Fernando passport offices resumed some services last week after weeks of protest of what head of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke has said are unacceptable and haz­ardous working conditions.

Duke has cited poor air quality, shoddy infrastructure and fire safety violations among a series of other Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) offences.

Minister of Labour Errol McLeod, two weeks ago, obtained an injunction against the PSA and forced a return to service of the offices. Workers have how­ever continued to protest and the minister has approached the court with contempt of court proceedings against Duke and to have him imprisoned.

While Duke has since insisted Government drop the “unjust” injunction to facilitate talks between the parties, Immigration employees have this week opened the doors between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m..
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