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SWWTU on stoppage: St Lucians hired to work at Port
Workers are unhappy with how the Port of Port-of-Spain’s management is treating them, which is why many of them do not want to go out to work, said Michael Annisette, president, Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU). In a statement yesterday, the Port Authority said following negotiations on Tuesday night with the SWWTU for the review of existing terms and conditions, some workers refused to accept work on the C Shift at 11 pm on Tuesday night and the A shift at 7 am on Wednesday.
“We must remember that workers are human beings, too, and if they feel that the management is taking them for a ride, then they will not feel like working. There is a lot of mistrust from workers. This negotiation for the three-year period comes to an end in July,” he told the Guardian yesterday. The Port Authority release further stated that Tuesday night’s meeting ended with a commitment to meet with relevant ministries and later with the union with a view at arriving at a solution.
“The management of the authority assures the public that it is making every attempt to have the matter resolved as soon as possible with minimal disruption.” Annisette said the 1,500 workers the SWWTU was negotiating on behalf of were “unhappy” with other issues, apart from the slow pace of negotiations.
“They brought people from St Lucia to do jobs, and you have port workers who have children who applied and they were not acknowledged and many of them have good qualifications. The tradition is that the children of workers are given first preference with these jobs. Yet foreigners coming to do them. This is unfair,” he said. Annisette said workers had been venting their “grievances” since last Monday.
“When workers are upset, they use different avenues to express how unhappy they are. As the person who represents workers, I cannot allow management to do what they feel like. I must represent the interest of the workers,” he said. Annisette said the Minister of Finance Larry Howai and line minister, Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz, called him promising that everything would be done to ensure negotiations run smoothly.