A group of casino workers protested proposed tax increases for the gaming sector at the home of Finance Minister Colm Imbert yesterday.
The small group of mainly women, accompanied by their children, braved the morning rains at about 9 am as they hoped to speak with the Finance Minister at his Hillsboro, Maraval, home. They were forced to leave after the police were called in. They did leave a letter in his post box. Imbert’s wife, Suzanne Williams-Imbert, was seen speaking briefly to the group.
The workers said the chose to protest on the Divali public holiday at the minister’s home because he ignored their requests for a meeting with them.
“We went his constituency office, we went to Parliament and he just keep passing us straight and shutting us out. We are here to plead with him and show him how serious it is because most of us here lost our jobs,” one of the workers, Anne-Marie Farmer said.
Maxine Gonzales, a spokesperson for the Members Club and Lottery Workers Union (MCLWU), explained that the workers decided on the unusual move without the knowledge of their employers, who had led them in previous protests against the tax increases.
She said: “We are here today against the wishes of our employers. They don’t even know we came here today. We are just a group of women who decided enough is enough.”
“We brace the rain and bad weather to come out here and you would not give us a fair hearing. Shubh Divali to you. It have none for me because I out here in the rain,” she said.
In the 2018 National Budget, Imbert announced a series of tax increases for gambling licences and machines which are to take effect on January 1, 2018.The move was strongly opposed by the T&T Private Members’ Club Association.
The association claims that increased taxes would force the closure of multiple small gambling establishments.