Monday, January 22, 2018

Duke, Griffith ‘reach compromise’

Relief in town but passport woes still linger in Sando

There was some relief at the Immigration Office in Port of Spain yesterday but the situation in San Fernando did not improve.

A senior Government official said yesterday National Security Minister Gary Griffith met with Public Servi­ces Association (PSA) president Watson Duke over the ongoing protest action at the Immigration

offices and they have “arrived at some compromise within a short time frame”.

But the official, who wished to remain anonymous, also said the “State is not afraid to exercise legal options”. 

 Duke has been agitating for better health and safety conditions for its employees. The litany of woes include no fire extinguisher, inade­quate water storage and blocked vents. 

The Industrial Court last Thursday granted Labour Minister Errol McLeod an injunction, restraining employees from refusing to work but on Monday, they refused to work and citizens complained bitterly about not getting their passports. 

The Immigration Office in Port of Spain was opened until 3 p.m yesterday and about 50 people received their passports. The office however is not functioning at full capacity. 

 At a news conference on Monday, Duke indicated to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, McLeod and Griffith, whom he dubbed “the powder-puff minister”, he was prepared to continue to engage in a bois bataille (wood battle) on behalf of PSA members, who provide 120 essential services. 

The Government official said yesterday: “Duke met with Gary Grif­fith and they have arrived at some compromise whereby the issues raised could be aggressively addressed within a short time frame. The employees will return to work. They met at 12 noon. 

“The Government will continue to dialogue in search of an amicable resolution but it will not tolerate the distress, frustration and inconvenience meted out to the public. It is therefore not afraid to exercise its legal options.”

When contacted, Duke said: “No comment today.”

He however said the PSA will be hosting a news conference at 9 a.m. today at the PSA headquarters. 

Efforts to contact Chief OSH Inspector Gaekwad Ramoutar at his Duke Street, Port of Spain, office proved futile.