President of the Public Services’ Association (PSA) Watson Duke said yesterday he will be meeting today with the staff at the Immigration Office in Port of Spain to discuss reducing the backlog of passport applications.
The Immigration Office on Frederick Street was open to the public until midday yesterday. Board of Inland (BIR) revenue workers and Piarco International Airport employees have since returned to work.
Across in Tobago, Duke also said buildings like Division of Health and Social Services and the Electrical Inspectorate will remain closed until Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Orville London agrees to meet with him.
Amid the closure of several Government services buildings, customers have registered their angst at Duke for the inconvenience. Several people who had gathered outside Immigration offices in Port of Spain and San Fernando said they could not get their passports to travel for work, business or leisure.
In a release issued on Tuesday, National Security Minister Gary Griffith said the shutdown action had threatened thousands with loss of jobs, scholarships, school places and inconvenienced thousands of citizens due to their inability to travel. Griffith also said he would be discussing the issue with Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
Duke has steadfastly maintained he was concerned about the workers’ health and safety issues and the buildings’ health and safety standards under the Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Act.
Via a telephone interview yesterday, Duke said: “At 7 a.m. (Thursday), I will be meeting with the staff to explore options to clear up the backlog of passports. Maybe it will involve additional compensation for them. We will be looking at a shift system.”
Duke added: “The airport is back up and running. The BIR and other workers are back on the job. We have had talks. We expect some things in writing in a short while.”
Efforts to contact London, Griffith and Ramlogan on their mobiles were futile yesterday.
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n Duke said the buildings like Sandy Hall in Tobago will remain closed. “I have not spoken to the Chief Secretary because his approach is reckless. The protest action continues in Tobago until they agree to meet.”