The Government made an eleventh hour appeal last evening to protesting Immigration Department workers to get back to work or face action that may come as early as today.
Acting Prime Minister Errol McLeod called a press conference in Marabella yesterday, saying that the workers and their representative union, the Public Services Association (PSA), were in clear violation of the injunction ordered by the court last Thursday which sought to prevent them from taking industrial action.
“The government invites all, even at this eleventh hour, to obey the order of the honourable court and to let good sense prevail .... I am voicing our strong condemnation of those who have disobeyed and therefore violated an important decision of the industrial court,” McLeod said, adding that dialogue had been encouraged.
“We are not about compromising workers’ health and safety but we are also not blind to the machinations of those who cry wolf each time they seek to by-pass the established process of collective bargaining and the legal procedure ... There’s also a clearly defined procedure for the workers’ response to threats to their health their lives and their limbs at the workplace and the procedure also explains something about the role of the OSH inspector,” he said.
McLeod, who as Minister of Labour, went to court last week on behalf of the Government to seek the injunction, said:”I do not have the patience or Job”. He said the issue will be the subject of discussions at the Cabinet meeting today.
He also apologised to citizens affected by the shut-down of operations at the Immigration Departments in Port of Spain and San Fernando.
“We wish to assure affected citizens and others requiring services that their concerns have not been abandoned by the Government. On the contrary, we had chosen to engage in a few dialogue processes which identified the real reason behind the protest by officers and members of the PSA at the immigration offices in Port of Spain and San Fernando,” he said.
McLeod said negotiation for better salaries and wages and improved conditions of employment must attach more on value and sustainability, than a fight for victory by one side over the other.
He said work was being undertaken to remedy whatever the conditions “frivolous or otherwise” that have been identified by a “so called” report done by an inspector at the Occupational Health and Safety Authority.