Comply with court order
By STACY MOORE Thursday, July 10 2014
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Talking tough: Acting Prime Minister Errol McLeod firmly calls on immigration officers to return to work during a press conference at his constituency...
ACTING Prime Minister Errol McLeod yesterday made a strong call for protesting workers of the Immigration Division to adhere to an injunction order made by the Industrial Court and return to their jobs.
In expressing regret over their actions, McLeod, the Labour Minister, declared the workers were “crying wolf” and that there are no signs of imminent danger to life and limb preventing them from returning to work and carrying out their functions.
For the past three weeks workers at the Immigration Division offices in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando have been staying away from work citing health and safety concerns. Thousands of persons have been affected by the immigration officers’ action which coincided with the start of the school vacation. Many persons have been prevented from travelling abroad because of their inability to get a passport.
McLeod, addressing a press conference at his constituency office on Union Road, Marabella said Government was running short on patience following the granting of an injunction by the Industrial Court.
Last week, the Labour Minister obtained an injunction which ordered the Public Service Association (PSA), its president Watson Duke, and members to restrain from taking any industrial action. Following the injunction, workers headed by Waston have continued protest action.
“I do not have more patience than Job. I really don’t have more patience than Job. Today is the seventh day and the order of the court is being ignored by people who ought to know better,” McLeod said.
McLeod, a veteran trade unionist who once held the position of president general of the Oil Fields Workers Trade Union, stated if there were unsafe conditions at the workplaces where workers lives and limbs were threatened then work must be withdrawn. “But we must establish that there is imminent danger to the lives of the workers. Nothing so far points to imminent danger that should call for a withdrawal from the workplace,” he stressed.
McLeod apologised to citizens for the frustrations now experienced at the immigration offices. He assured their concerns have not fallen on deaf ears. McLeod said the health and safety of workers are not being compromised at any of the immigration offices under the OSH Act.
“We are not blind to the imaginations of those who cry wolf each time they seek to bypass the established process of collective bargaining and the grievance procedure. I am voicing our strong condemnation of those who have disobeyed and violated an important decision of the industrial court,” he added. He said Cabinet will meet today to deliberate on the issue and look at all legal options.