Trinidad Public workers demonstrate
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC – Thousands of public servants took to the streets in Trinidad and Tobago today in support of their demands for increased salaries as the Public Service Association (PSA) called for a national strike next week.
The PSA is demanding that public workers would not be accepting anything less than TT$6 000 (US$1 000) a month and the union’s president Watson Duke said that the authorities were maintaining their original offer.
Duke, who met with the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO), while the public servants assembled outside the building, later said “it is war, there will be no work, no work, no work, no work.
“We are not turning back, from today onwards I want the public service to come to a halt,” he said, adding that the next round of negotiations would begin on Tuesday.
The authorities are said to be offering zero, zero, and one per cent over the three year period and Duke said that it is time that public workers begin ‘to get a sip from the chalice”.
He said it was important for public workers “to stand up for their liberation” and that when the national strike is called next week, no one must go to work.
“Services must be interrupted, the hospitals must not operate as normal, water must run as normal, the planes must not fly as normal,” he said, adding “I want to let you know that all negotiations have come to an end until your satisfied.
“All negotiations have come to an end until you are satisfied, we must have a sip from the chalice…we are not going back to work today and next week you must resolve to shut the country down,” he said to loud applause.
“Next week Tuesday is negotiations and the public service must come to a halt,” saying he was not afraid of being arrested.
“Your time has come,” he added.
The four month People’s Partnership government of Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar includes trade unions that came together to help form the five-member coalition that successfully won the May 24 general election by a comfortable 29-12 margin, defeating then People’s National Movement (PNM) administration headed by then prime minister Patrick Manning.
Government Press Secretary Garvin Nicholas, speaking on radio here, said that while he understood the position of the public workers, the new government had come into office “with so many things had been left to fester over the last eight years.”
He told listeners that the government wants to settle the outstanding issue with the public workers. (CMC)