This week saw frustrated immigration officers absent themselves from work, causing long waiting lines at the airport.
Their union said that these officers have not been paid overtime and travelling allowances since 2019. Worse, the reason for officers having to work overtime in the first place, is because the Ministry has failed to fill the numerous vacancies that exist in the Immigration Division. Recent reports also show that this exists throughout the public service with many agencies being understaffed and under-resourced.
MP Tancoo said “The Minister continually acts in bad faith against workers. It is bad enough that Minister Imbert always adopts an adversarial role in dealing with the numerous outstanding wage negotiations, but to have deliberately withheld payments to these officers and expecting them to continue doing extra work, is ridiculous”.
The CPO who is responsible for negotiations with the unions, falls directly under the purview of the Minister of Finance, who is well aware of the state of negotiations.
Indeed, in every sphere of government activity it appears that Minister Imbert has established a stranglehold, as Ministries are wallowing in debt, and suppliers are engaging in cash-only transactions because they simply cannot trust that this government will fulfil their debt obligations.
Tancoo stated “By postponing wage settlement and by failing to pay outstanding debts to workers, the government is borrowing from employees at a time when workers are facing rising costs of living and increased taxation by the very same Minister of Finance.”
Ironically, the failure of the Minister to meet government’s contractual obligations to workers and suppliers is just one factor which continues to undermine the ease of doing business in Trinidad and Tobago. Other factors include the reality of runaway crime, crumbling infrastructure, severely limited access to foreign exchange except to friends, family and financiers of the government.
Yet in the midst of economic decline, Minister Imbert chooses to turn a blind eye to the facts and somehow boasts that Trinidad and Tobago is an investment haven. After 7 years in office it is high time that Minister Imbert stop passing off public relations gimmicks and games as achievements, and do the job that he is being handsomely paid to do. It is no longer a question of competence. It is deliberate deception.