The Government is calling on all employees of the Immigration Division to return to work. The Government reiterates its position that ongoing industrial action at the Immigration Offices, as orchestrated by the Public Services Association, is unreasonable, unjust, and illegal.
Reports have been received that since Monday 14th July, 2014, some employees continue to refuse to attend work and/or to work normally at the Immigration Division offices at 67 Frederick Street, Port of Spain and San Fernando, ignoring the injunction granted by the Industrial Court.
That injunction, which was granted on July 3rd, 2014, restrains the Public Services Association, its President, Officers, Servants, Agents, Members and Staff of the Immigration Department in the Ministry of National Security from taking and/or continuing to take Industrial action contrary to the Industrial Relations Act Chap 88:01.
Staff of the Immigration Division must abide by this order. The continued disregard of the injunction violates the rule of law and can lead to disorder.
While the Government is aware that there have been some complaints about the state of the Immigration Division building at 67 Frederick Street, Port of Spain, the fact is that no serious danger or any unusual circumstances that are hazardous or injurious to health, life or safety have been identified.
In a letter dated July 9, 2014 from the Chief Inspector of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) to Mr. Duke, the President of the PSA, the Chief Inspector stated that following the inspection of the Immigration Division Head Office located at #67 Frederick Street, Port of Spain on Friday 4th July, “the actual safety and health workplace risk at the time of the inspection was not assessed to be unacceptable. This assessment was based on the findings documented in the Inspection Record Form which was completed by the Inspectors who conducted the inspection. In this regard, it was determined that the issuing of a Prohibition Notice on the Immigration Division Head Office at #67 Frederick Street was not an applicable enforcement decision”.
Complaints about conditions at the Immigration Building at 67 Frederick Street, Port of Spain have been substantially addressed, and to date, no complaints about conditions at the San Fernando Immigration Office have been lodged.
There is therefore no valid reason to justify any staff of the Immigration Division at either the Port of Spain or San Fernando office not to continue to work normally.
In the circumstances, the Government has sent letters reminding employees of their legal obligation to continue to work normally in order to satisfy their obligation to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and justify being paid a salary.
Employees who continue to refuse to attend work and/or to work normally at the Immigration Division offices were also warned that being absent without leave may result in appropriate salary deductions.
The Government stresses that negotiations for better salaries and wages and improved conditions of employment must attach more on value and sustainability, than a fight for victory by one side over the other.
We wish to assure the national population that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago will actively continue dialogue with the Public Services Association as we seek to arrive at an amicable resolution.
Government is exploring all options to ensure that the backlog is cleared up speedily.