Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday said Government is not going to tolerate protest action by Immigration officers.
His declaration came two days after Immigration officers at Piarco Airport stayed off the job. This led to hundreds of angry arriving passengers standing in line, some waiting for as long as three hours, to be processed.
Rowley confirmed he had received and read a report on the protest action, which has since been passed on to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
Speaking at the formal opening of a bridge at Covista Court in Covigne, in his Diego Martin West constituency, Rowley said, “I got the report on that matter, which has been sent to the National Security Minister and the Attorney General.
“I expect those who want to hold this country to ransom will not be allowed to do so. Immigration is part of the National Security apparatus and I can tell you, we are not to be subjected to that, and the government is not going to tolerate it.”
On Monday, Dillon warned that anyone who breached existing rules in terms of protest action would be dealt with.
Rowley yesterday said that at a time when the country is experiencing financial difficulties, the Immigration officers’ actions were self-serving.
DUKE: NO GUARANTEES
For his part, president of the Public Services Association (PSA) Watson Duke gave no assurances that Immigration officials would return to work as scheduled after Sunday’s protest action.
Duke said while he could not predict the future action of Immigration workers, he remains committed to the well-being of all public servants and promised to address their concerns at another meeting with ministry officials set for Monday December 4.
“The only assurance I can give is that I will continue to promote the mandate that got me here in the first place, which is to support all public servants, as I continue to give the Immigration workers 100 per cent of my support. While I cannot predict what action they will choose to take, my role is to fight with them, side by side.”
Duke said last Sunday’s sick-out action represented only one symptom of a larger problem. He said he would do his best to treat with the issue.
On Monday, the Airports Authority issued a statement apologising for the inconvenience on Sunday and said it was holding discussions with the Ministry of National Security to improve efficiency.
The authority also said while immigration did not fall under its remit, it empathised with passengers and promised to continue to work together with all stakeholders to provide a safer and smoother travelling experience.