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T&T Chamber: Immigration shutdown ad-hoc and disruptive
The T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce yesterday expressed concern about the interruption of essential government services with the shutdown of the immigration offices in San Fernando and Port-of-Spain. In a statement the chamber said: “The complete shutdown of immigration services, in particular the office where passports are produced, not only disrupts the business community which requires such services for work-related matters, but it also causes major upset to the wider public for purposes of travel or student visas.”
The chamber maintained that in workplaces where there are deficiencies in compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, the employer must be responsible for correcting them in a proactive manner and ensuring employees work under safe conditions. The organisation recalled the government’s announcement in May that OSH issues at the immigration and Board of Inland Revenue buildings were to be tackled in the short term and called for an update on the repairs so the timeline for completion could be understood.
The statement continued: “We are also concerned that other essential public services have remained, for months, not operating at full capacity, (owing) to OSH issues. “
However, while we understand the plight of the affected workers, we maintain that all parties on both sides must act responsibly and in the best interest of all of our nation's citizens in reaching a resolution to these matters. We expect that dialogue continues and offices, such as the Immigration Office, will remain open and serve members of the public while the issues are being dealt with.
“We expect the union will honour any agreements made for staff to perform their duties while any works are being completed, and we expect that the Government will honour its obligations to do what is necessary to provide a safe environment for their employees.
“We do not, however, support an ad-hoc and disruptive approach to resolving this issue, as is being undertaken by this current complete shutdown.”