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Immigration workers back out in PoS

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The passport office on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain resumed normal operations yesterday, remaining open for its usual working hours—7 am to 3 pm—and offering renewal and distribution of new passports. 


An immigration officer said the injunction issued by the Industrial Court on Thursday evening triggered the resumption of normal operations. 


The industrial action initiated by PSA president Watson Duke on May 14 was part of a series of protests against poor health and safety working conditions in the Public Service. 


Duke could not be reached for comment yesterday, as calls to his cellphone went unanswered and messages left were not returned.


Around 9 am yesterday people lined the pavement outside the office, but by 10 am they were all inside. Initially, only people who had passports to collect were attended to, but full operations resumed in the afternoon when the workload slowed down.


The T&T Guardian spoke to a few people who were pleased to receive their passports.


“They’re working, they’re working,” one woman said. 


A man, who was clearly relieved, said: “I got my passport and it wasn’t too bad. Everything took me about an hour, from the time I was outside to when I collected the passport.”


In the afternoon, when the T&T Guardian visited, the office was almost empty except for the immigration officers, who had enough time to watch World Cup football. 


An officer said many people were unaware the office was open for the entire day, resulting in the slow business in the afternoon.


On Thursday, scores of people gathered at the office from as early as 3 am only to be told their passports were not ready. 


Tempers had flared, and riot police were called out.



About the injunction

At Thursday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, Labour Minister Errol McLeod described the action of the PSA as illegal. After receiving numerous complaints from members of the public, government ministers, and MPs, McLeod decided to seek an injunction which was granted late Thursday.  
The four-page court order stated: “The public officers are hereby restrained from taking and/or continuing to take such industrial action within the meaning and provisions of the Industrial Relations Act until further order.”​


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