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PSA members protest against own boss

Published: 
Friday, November 10, 2017

In an unprecedented move yesterday, the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) staged a noisy protest against Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke for ill-treating 18 of his workers.

Leading the protest outside the PSA’s Port-of-Spain headquarters was Kestor Duncan, president of PSA staff, who claimed for eight years Duke has been ignoring the plight of his staff, which ranged from health and safety concerns, non- functioning toilets, electrical issues and uncertainty of being paid a pension upon retirement.

The employees, who are BIGWU members, work at two of PSA’s buildings on Abercromby Street.

Asked if BIGWU president Vincent Cabrera gave clearance for the protest, Duncan said: “I wouldn’t say he sanctioned the protest, you know, the staff just decided at our last branch meeting that enough was enough. Duke needs to stop the victimisation and sit down with the affected staff and let us arbitrate.”

Duncan said this was the first time a union had protested against another.

“I would say this is historical,” he said.

Duncan said while people would say BIGWU’s protest was political and to make Duke look bad on the eve of PSA’s November 29 election, this was not the case.

“This has nothing to do with politics. What we want is for him to relate to the staff.”

He said many times BIGWU and the workers had tried to meet with Duke but were unsuccessful, which was unacceptable.

“You are fighting for public officers on the outside but you not seeing about your staff at home. I think he is dodging his responsibilities.” Duncan also described Duke as a “bad boss.” If Duke continues to refuse to meet, Duncan said they will step up their action.

“Just as how he would tell the Government that he would keep marching until they hear him, we are going to do the same thing until good sense prevails,” Duncan said.

Several calls to Duke’s cellphone went unanswered yesterday. (SH)