Michael Annisette, general secretary of the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC), says if the Government does not make good on its agreement with port workers, then the workers may be forced to shut-down the ports.
In a phone interview with Newsday on Tuesday, Annisette, who earlier led a protest outside the Port of Port of Spain, said the agreement was over the 2014-2017 salary agreement.
The union signed a 12 per cent increase for the three years for some 1,700 workers, which Annisette said will cost the State approximately $100 million.
“Enough is enough. We must take a stand,” he said, adding that the Government is attempting to “unilaterally engage in wage freeze..
Annisette said the agreement signed in 2015 predates the covid19 pandemic and the financial implications that came with it. He said the protest was an expression of the frustration of the workers, who are forced to live paycheque to paycheque on outdated salaries.
“The workers have been trying to be patient after six years. This is a question of respect and fairness and failure to address the concerns of the workers. If they are not paid, then they may have to hold out on their services until they are paid.”
Newsday contacted Vilma Lewis-Cockburn, corporate communication manager at the port, who said the issue was a government issue. Calls to Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan went unanswered. His communications manager Kizzie Ruiz promised to get back to Newsday but did not up to 6 pm.
Annisette added that port management were warned to treat with the seriousness of the issue and believes that government bureaucracy is to be blamed for the delay.As well as the port workers, lecturers at Cipriani Labour College have not received a salary increase since 2008.
“There is no economic justification for all of this. Why is the Government behaving with such disdain and disrespect? This have to stop.”