Duke: What will unemployed do for next three weeks?

Watson Duke -
Watson Duke -

Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke said the Prime Minister has left hundreds of workers on the breadline and out in the cold to suffer from the impact of “harsh and unforgiving” restrictions.

On Thursday Dr Keith Rowley moved to close hundreds of businesses to reduce the risk of infection among the public.

Duke, at a press conference on Friday at PSA headquarters, called on Rowley to say how he intends to help those who may now face destitution as a result of temporary unemployment.

At a press conference, Rowley announced changes to the Public Health Ordinance which will see a three-week closure of all malls, bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, casinos, cinemas, and theatres.

Flights to Tobago will be reduced, as will the inter-island seabridge capacity. These measures will remain in effect until May 23.

While the prime minister carefully avoided the word “lockdown,” Duke told the media there is no other way to describe the move.

“Hundreds of thousands of persons are now home, and he has already (implied) to the people that he cannot help and social services has no provision to deal with the fallout this time around.”

In mid-March, during a Conversation with the Prime Minister virtual public meeting, Rowley said the government cannot afford to support affected workers if the country is slung into another lockdown. He said even with the best efforts of the government, Trinidad and Tobago will not find money to give 50,000 -60,000 people paycheques at the end of the month for three months.

Duke asked why these restrictions were reintroduced.

“He has now locked down the country for two fortnights. Can these people come to the prime minister’s residence asking for a cup of tea? In Tobago, in South, in Talparo, what do they do?”

Duke said there were other ways the prime minister should have gone about attempting to reduce the covid19 infection rate while ensuring workers aren't left without a steady income.

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"Duke: What will unemployed do for next three weeks?"

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