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Port work at a standstill
Protest action at the Port of Port-of-Spain has grounded goods entering and leaving the country for a second consecutive day. Tat Maharaj, representative of the secretariat of the Hauliers Association of T&T, said importers, exporters and businesses were being affected by the action at the port that began Monday.
“According to a notice sent out by the port’s management to all the stakeholders, workers did not start work this morning. This has affected businesses, exporters, importers and manufacturers. I have been getting calls all day about people complaining their goods cannot be moved,” she told the T&T Guardian yesterday. She said according to the notice sent out by the port’s management to stakeholders, the management said it had an emergency meeting with the Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union (SWWTU) to find a solution.
Betty Gibbons, manager of public relations at the port, sent the T&T Guardian a copy of the work stoppage notice sent out by the port operations consultant Narine Singh to all stakeholders.
The notice read: “The port wishes to advise that its employees have not accepted work as at Monday April 7, 0700 hours. This action is negatively affecting vessel, yard, delivery and shed operations through the Port of Port-of-Spain. Management is currently holding discussions with the union to address the matter. Every effort is being made to resolve it in the shortest possible time.”
Sayeed Mohammed, president of the Hauliers’ Association of T&T, said the first truck movement they saw was not until mid-afternoon on Monday and that they were “suffering.” He added: “Truckers who went to the Port-of-Spain port this morning to do legitimate business could not go in to do their business. “In the Point Lisas port, trucks are trying to enter the Container Examination Centre (CEC) and the port workers are denying them from getting into there because the CEC is blocked and trucks cannot move.
“Since 8 am the truckers have not been able to move to the CEC and people have not been able to make a dollar for the day yet and cannot make a day’s work.” Michael Annisette, president-general of the SWWTU, told the T&T Guardian the current three- year collective agreement would end next month and there had been no word from the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) to begin negotiations. He said workers had now reached a point of “frustration.”
“After 29 months workers are frustrated. They are in a state of mind where they are unproductive and cannot focus and do any work,” he added. He said if there was any prolonged work stoppage on the port it would affect the national community. “This has implications for the national community. If people cannot deliver goods then the country will be affected. The port is important to the economy,” he said.
Annisette said although he was not present at the meeting yesterday, the secretary general of the SWWTU was present at the meeting with management. “They are meeting and I hope that they begin to take us seriously. Workers are humans and not inanimate objects,” he added.