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Casino workers in tears after ministry’s meeting

Published: 
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Casino workers were literally brought to tears yesterday upon learning that discussions between the T&T Members Club Association (TTMCA) and the Finance Ministry were futile.

Veronica Forde, executive members representing the Casino Workers Union said many workers were unsure of where their next meal would come from or where they would get money to pay their rent.

The union was not part of the meeting but were present after it ended following talks with Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson West. The meeting lasted for about an hour and a half.

Forde said the union did not attend the meeting because representatives received late correspondence.

The association’s president Sherry Persad who described yesterday’s outcome as “disheartening” added, “The minister could not give us any hope or any guarantee of anything.

“I felt like we were just going through motions and just being heard. We were looking at blank faces, no expression and the union is now asking me what is going to become of their jobs.”

Persad said during the meeting the association reiterated the detriment facing the gaming industry following the announcement of the 100 percent increase in taxes.

“She (West) said she took note of our concerns however, she could not give us any guarantee regarding moving forward. We have clubs that were closed down.

“The minister indicated that this is only ten percent of taxes to be collected. The rest is uncollected so because of the lack of enforcement this industry is going to taxed by 100 percent which we think is very vindictive,” Persad said.

She said the association offered to put forward initiatives to the ministry to improve collection, including proper legislation which Persad said the association has been lobbying for the past 12 years.

“We were hoping there would be legislation in place before any increase in taxes,” Persad added.

She said the association believed they were being deliberately targeted.

Calling for an immediate meeting with Finance Minister Colm Imbert Persad said, “All the staff is here and they are asking us what is going to become of their jobs and what could we tell them?

“We can’t tell them anything positive,” Persad said, adding that the gambling industry was a service industry which was heavily dependent on disposable income.

“People are losing jobs all over and how could you not make time and hear us,” Persad said.

An emotional Forde said many workers had already lost their jobs, saying she has been receiving numerous calls of concern from crying employees.

“People are concerned how they are going to mind their children. This is not right and we want to know where do we go from here.

“We had hoped that something would have come out from this where we could have a peaceful night sleep...right now we are not sleeping because we don’t know what will happen to us tomorrow.

“Where I work there are about ten pregnant women and they are asking me what is going to happen to next. How do we deal with this? Aren’t we people to? Don’t we deserve the same rights as everybody else?,” Forde asked.

Minister’s figures inaccurate-attorney

The association’s attorney Christlyn Moore who also spoke said figures presented by Imbert were inaccurate said, “The minister is prepared to collect the 90 percent tax outstanding from the ten percent that is compliant.

‘That cannot be accurate Government policy. The thing to do is improve compliance.”

She said West said there was a plan to improve compliance when in fact there was no plan to do so.

“It seems the plan the ministry has designed to increase compliance is to increase tax on compliant members,” Moore said.