Former T&T Guardian photographer Lester Forde died last Friday at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
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Duke threatens action by 80,000
Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke is putting the Government on notice of mass protest action by his 80,000 members if health, safety and wage issues are not resolved soon. “Full, full attack,” charged Duke yesterday as he told administrative staff at the San Fernando Magistrates Court to prepare themselves to gather on the streets before the year’s end. The staff have not returned to work since last Tuesday when they walked off the job because of health and safety issues.
In a letter to court executive administrator Michelle Austin last week, Duke gave her until last Friday to produce various health and safety documents, including a fire certificate and a Occupational Health and Safety Authority (OSHA) report of compliance, for all the court buildings in the country. But he said the judiciary E-mailed him on Friday asking for additional time and he had extended the deadline to Friday at 3 pm.
“So we will hold hands on any further inspection of buildings under the purview of the Judiciary,” he added. However, he said, if it did not produce the documents by Friday the PSA would take the Judiciary to court for breaking the law. He added: “The Judiciary is not the law, the law is the law and the Judiciary must obey the law. “If there is no fire certificate, they are committing an offence to have officers working in that building, especially public officers.
“No OSHA could sanitise that process and make them feel guiltless. They are as guilty as a man smoking weed. They are as guilty as someone committing murder because they would have violated the act in the face of knowledge. “So I am putting them on notice: Next week is going to be a week of litigation and apart from that it is going to be a week of militant action and let us see what they are going to do.”
Saying he was almost certain that the documents did not exist, he said: “Before this year comes to an end PSA will be hitting the streets. What’s happening here will turn out to be a cataclysmic event if something isn’t done as to stop the haemorrhaging and I say the haemorrhaging of public officers’ values the haemorrhaging of their lives. “On a day-to-day basis they are losing themselves to a system that is against them.”
Wage negotiations was a separate issue but he said the PSA would not accept ten or even 12 per cent. He urged the staff to remain strong and not to be intimidated by management.