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Warner denies plan to use Defence Force
Minister of Works and Transport Jack Warner has denied newspaper reports which said the T&T Defence Force will be used as part of a contingency plan to deal with the threat of sickout action by police officers. He was referring to his discussions with the media at a ceremony held to commemorate the first anniversary of the Public Transport Service Corporation’s Deluxe Coach Service (DCS) at the DCS lounge on St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain, last Thursday. In a media release, Warner said: “I was never speaking about the sickout taken by members of the Police Social and Welfare Association but rather the action taken by estate police officers of the Airports Authority.
He added: “I never expressed any intention ‘to use the T&T Defence Force as part of a contingency plan to deal with the scourge of police sickouts’ as was reported. “Rather my response was, ‘thank God the army is standing by’ to assist.” Warner, who spoke with reporters Monday at the official commissioning of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway from O’Meara Road to Demerara Road, alluded to references made by Opposition Leader and political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley at his party’s 43rd annual convention at the Chaguaramas Convention Centre on Sunday.
At the convention which elected the PNM’s new executive, Rowley drew from a newspaper report titled “Warner: Soldiers will counter ‘blue sickout,’” which quoted Warner as saying: “Thank God the army is standing by, I have more soldiers standing by. “What I’m going to do now is to make sure at every level of service to the public we have staff to provide backup strength for contingencies like this.” In making his point, Rowley questioned whether that issue was a matter for Warner or one which fell under the purview of the Ministry of National Security. When asked by reporters whether he felt “misquoted” by the media report, Warner said it was deliberately misleading. “I was talking specifically about the security officers at the airports which come under my ministry, I cannot talk about anything else.”
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