Inland Revenue workers march
Tuesday, October 16 2012
click on pic to zoom in
SORRY STATE: Inland Revenue Division workers as they marched in protest yesterday outside their workplace - Trinidad House in Port-of-Spain - over the...
WORKERS of the Finance Ministry’s Inland Revenue Division at Trinidad House, St Vincent Street in Port-of-Spain protested yesterday in front of their office over poor working conditions.
Chanting, “Tell Howai, we want a new building”, the workers marched up and down the pavement to draw attention to their plight including lack of air-conditioning, poor toilet conditions, overcrowded work spaces, flooding in the offices, dust and electrical wires hanging down from the ceiling.
Employee Curlene Marcelle-Mars, told Newsday that management is well aware of the poor working conditions. “Management is not doing anything and these problems have been going on for months now,” Marcelle-Mars complained.
“There are a lot of workers who are falling sick because of these poor working conditions and we just can’t take it anymore.” Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke urged the workers to continue with the protest action. He told them that he plans to meet with Minister of Finance Larry Howai to address their concerns, saying that after years of problems with the building, it was time for the matter to be dealt with as he reminded workers of a previous major sewage problem at the same building. “What you are asking for is not unreasonable,” he said, noting that workers of the Inland Revenue division are responsible for collecting over $100 billion (in taxes) for government who, “can’t even spend $100 million to fix this building.” A new building on Richmond Street, reportedly ready for occupation since 2006, was intended to house these workers, but to date, remains empty.
PSA general secretary Nixon Callender told Newsday the union is still awaiting word as to when personnel would get the go-ahead to relocate to the new building.
“We are going to continue protesting until these issues are addressed. A number of ministries have already been transferred to new buildings, so why can’t this very important ministry move into a new building that is practically completed?” he asked.
The workers also raised the issue of daily paid workers in the public service receiving a nine percent salary increase. At the end of the negotiation period from 2008 to 2010, the PSA settled for a five percent salary increase for monthly paid workers.
Callender noted that the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW) recently got the Minister of Finance to settle on a nine percent salary increase for its daily paid workers.
Callender referred to a statement last week by Howai, that he was going to settle on the nine percent increase for daily paid workers. As such, the PSA is demanding an additional four percent salary increase to ensure parity. “Salary adjustments need to be done in order to maintain the relativity and equity of subordinates and supervisors. This is why we asking for an additional four percent, and the monthly paid workers are in support of this move,” said Callender.