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Cabinet mulls more legal action against PSA over Immigration standoff

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Even as immigration workers contemplate a resumption of work, Government is thinking of further legal action against the Public Services Association (PSA) for its decision to defy the court injunction against it. In a press conference at his Point-a-Pierre constituency office in Marabella yesterday, acting Prime Minister and Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod said Cabinet would meet today to weigh all its options, including legal ones, as its seeks to end the current impasse.



In what seemed a stern warning, Mc Leod said: “I sought the injunction on the State’s behalf and I wish to state only that I encourage dialogue and I proclaim peace but hear this, I do not have more patience than Job. Today is the seventh day.” For the pass two weeks, workers have shut down operations at immigration offices in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando, leaving hundreds of citizens without passport services. 


Yesterday marked the seventh day since McLeod successfully got an injunction in the Industrial Court to prevent workers from taking industrial action. However, workers have since been defying that order by working shorter hours owing to health and safety concerns. Mc Leod said Cabinet would discuss matter at length today and would let the public know what it would decide to do.


“We are looking at all of our legal options. At this time, work is being undertaken to remedy whatever the conditions, frivolous and otherwise, that has been identified by a so-called report done by some inspector of the OSH Agency.” He said he was unable to determine when operations would resume at the immigration offices, saying that the action should have ended on Tuesday. He said because Government had exercised patience and called for dialogue, further action against the PSA was delayed.


PSA president Watson Duke has cited several health and safety violation in the buildings that could be detrimental to workers’ lives. Not denying Duke’s claim, Mc Leod said all Government work places had health and safety concerns. He added: “There are health and safety issues no doubt at all of our workplaces but the OSH Act talks to imminent danger to the health, to the life and to the limb of the affected workers. 


“In such circumstances, where there is imminent danger that will injure the health, the life and the limb, there is a particular procedure that they have to follow. “I am saying that nothing that has so far been pointed out, points to imminent danger that should effect a withdrawal from the workplace. “I support every request and every demand for the most absolute health and safety conditions but, as I said just now, let us not cry wolf when our intentions are other than securing the door from the wolf.”


He said Government was not about compromising workers' health and safety.