THE GOVERNMENT is open to talks with other public sector trade unions to make a percentage of its housing and land stock available for those workers as it did for the Public Services Association (PSA), Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal said yesterday.
Moonilal made the comment during a distribution ceremony with the PSA at the union's Abercromby Street, Port of Spain, office.
The housing and land benefit was one of the incentives which ended the longstanding negotiation between the PSA and the Chief Personnel Officer in April.
At the ceremony, Moonilal presented keys to 39 public servants, who would now be able to move into their homes. They were the first beneficiaries of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the PSA and the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).
"I prefer not to identify now but there are other trade unions involved in negotiations, a couple have raised with us this possibility of housing and land as part of their approach to concluding negotiations and we have indicated that, in all fairness, we cannot allow the PSA alone to have a monopoly on this type of approach so that other unions we are open to have talks with them," Moonilal said
Moonilal praised president of the PSA Watson Duke for what he described as a historic settlement for his members.
"The PSA is the first trade union in the history of this country to have an institutional relationship for the distribution of public housing. And Mr Duke did not stop there...he said house is good but you know some public officers would like land because there are a lot of public officers as well who come to us and they say we may not want a home but if we can get a piece of land a service lot meaning you have access to electricity and water and so on we are prepared to work hard and build," he said.
Duke told reporters after the distribution ceremony that it was a tedious process to select the new home owners since his office received more than 500 applications from members.
"We had to ensure that we looked at the ethnic landscape of our nation, which is basically people of African and Indian descent ... we sought to balance those of a particular age group. There were those who would have applied in excess of 15 years and then we took persons again who were quite young, particularly those with young families. We want to give them hope and tell them that they do matter to the PSA," he said
"We tried not to put too many persons from one area. So we almost took one person from each area while there are several regional health authorities (RHA) we took people from almost every RHA ..."