Three days after a pregnant mother and her five children were rescued from rising flood waters and taken to a shelter, they were told to return to their water-logged one-room shack yesterday.
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After protest BIR workers relocated
A total of 176 employees of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) have been relocated to the second floor of the Eric Williams Financial Complex, Port-of-Spain. This was confirmed by Finance Minister Larry Howai in a telephone interview yesterday. The employees, who are members of the Public Service Association (PSA), walked off their jobs on March 18 citing occupational, safety and health reasons.
The affected offices include Trinidad House and the Inland Revenue office, St Vincent Street; Victoria Court, Queen Street and the District Revenue Office for St George West, Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. The tax relations section of the BIR has told the public that owing to the industrial action at the division there was no cashing service in Port-of-Spain.
Checks by the T&T Guardian revealed there were in fact no cashiers yesterday at the Inland Revenue office, Port-of-Spain. There was a skeleton staff with a lone security guard having to deal with members of the public. Howai said he met with PSA president Watson Duke yesterday to discuss the matter and tests by the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri) came back negative for mould. He said the ministry was also willing to pay for medical tests on affected employees.
When contacted Duke said he would not disclose what was discussed unless he met with the staff. He said the PSA was aware of the occupational, safety and health issues at the Port-of-Spain offices and others throughout the country and advised its members who complained about health-related issues to sign in every day and leave. BIR employees at San Fernando and Chaguanas also joined the protest yesterday.
“The employees have reasonable belief that the buildings are sick. “The vents are covered with fungus, some parts of the carpet has been removed and the remaining carpet is dusty. “We are awaiting certain reports from Cariri,” Duke added. He said medical testing had already begun, adding that he hopes the matter will be rectified to the benefit of the employees.