Postal workers shut up shop to demand salary increases

President of the TT Postal Workers Union Shellon Trim leads a protest outside of TT Post's corporate shop, Caroline building, Wilson Road, Scarborough on March 13. - Photo by Corey Connelly
President of the TT Postal Workers Union Shellon Trim leads a protest outside of TT Post's corporate shop, Caroline building, Wilson Road, Scarborough on March 13. - Photo by Corey Connelly

DOZENS of TT Post's limited and full-franchise operations were closed for business on March 12 when about 200 postal workers demonstrated in front of the Chief Personnel Officer’s (CPO) office on Alexandra Street, Port of Spain, seeking a salary increase of 18.6 per cent.

Members of the TT Postal Workers Union and Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), led by general secretary David Forbes, gathered at Augustus Williams Park, Woodbrook, where cries of “No retreat, no surrender!” rang out. The workers made their way to the CPO’s office, where they continued chanting and brandishing placards.

A similar protest was held simultaneously outside TTPost’s corporate shop at Caroline Building in Scarborough.

Representatives of the Sanitation and General Workers Union, Contractors and General Workers Union, and Communication Workers Union, were also present outside the CPO's office to show solidarity and raise their own concerns.

Forbes told Newsday the union has been imploring the CPO, Daryl Dindial, to implement a job-evaluation exercise done in 2010 and agreed to by the union and TT Post management in 2011.Forbes said the exercise was done while the former People’s Partnership coalition government was in office, and progress stalled after the change in administration.

“Since then, we’ve seen the Salaries Review Commission taking a position to go and increase the salaries for parliamentarians, including the PM, opposition leader and (high-ranking public officials),” said Forbes. “The workers of TT Post, having noted that, would have called on the union to do something about the evaluation, which is long-outstanding."

He said they were sure parliamentarians would get salary increases.

"We paid attention to (Finance Minister) Mr Imbert when he said that anomalies for them would be sent back for review. Even though there are still some issues therein, they can take a position, and we know that position is going to be to (approve) those increases."

He said the union wrote to the CPO two weeks ago about the exercise but has got no substantial response.

He said the workers have been working with new job descriptions arising out of the exercise, but for salaries from 2013.

“We are calling on the CPO, for another time, to look into the matter of implementation of the evaluation for the workers of TT Post.

“It cannot be that they are going to work to be productive on a daily basis, to serve the people of TT, and here it is we have a government that showing they just don’t care.”

Forbes addressed Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales, who said he does not have the authority to negotiate terms and conditions for workers, including their salaries.

“Not to get into any tangle with (the minister)…okay, you’re not responsible, but you are the minister responsible for TT Post, and here it is you have your Cabinet colleague (Imbert), who is aware of this job-evaluation issue.”

Forbes said Gonzales should inform Imbert that it is an ongoing issue that should take precedence over government officials' salaries.

“Treat with the postal workers’ final report before you deal with you all selves.”

He also accused Gonzales of trying to bring the union into disrepute on Monday by breaking protocol and inviting the union’s president to a private meeting by himself as the lone union representative – an invitation he reportedly declined.

Forbes said he felt personally disrespected as the general secretary, who he said is the chief spokesman for the union.

“And the letters we would have written to the CPO and to the minister were signed by the general secretary of the union, and here it is they tried to usurp the position of the union by taking a position to call one of our officers to a meeting by himself.”

Forbes said he expects the CPO to write to the union for a meeting with an explicit agenda concerning the job-evaluation exercise.


"Postal workers shut up shop to demand salary increases"

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