Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 4th 2014 Contents DEREK ACHONG
In a last minute bid to avert a possible
national crisis, attorneys representing
Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod went to
Industrial Court late yesterday and got an
injunction preventing further industrial
action by the Public Services Association-
led Immigration Division.
After hearing submissions, which lasted
several hours, the ex-parte injunction, done
in the absence of attorneys for the PSA,
was granted by a five-member panel of
It effectively ended over seven weeks of
protest from the union, which virtually crip-
pled operations at all Immigration Depart-
ment offices since it was first initiated by
PSA president Watson Duke on May 14.
The four-page court order, obtained by
the T&T Guardian, stated: "The public offi-
cers are hereby restrainted from taking
and/or continuing to take such industrial
action within the meaning and provisions
of the Industrial Relations Act until further
The panel comprised Industrial Court
president Deborah Thomas-Felix and judges
Lawrence Achong, Albert Aberdeen, Kyril
Jack and Kathleen George-Marcelle.
In an affidavit filed in the case, Chief
Immigration Officer Gerry Downes detailed
a timeline for the protest action, which was
started over health and safety conditions.
He said workers initially started working
until midday at the department s headquar-
ters Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain.
Later they "reported for work by merely
signing the attendance register and leaving
the office shortly after," Downes said.
Last Thursday, the protest spread to the
San Fernando office after Duke and the staff
complained of safety concerns with the
Downes said the following day his organ-
isation s offices at Henry Street were hit by
a shutdown after a fire alarm went off while
members of staff were cooking in a kitchen.
He noted that although the Fire Services
cleared the building shortly after arriving
there, Duke still advised staff not to occupy
He said despite efforts by management
to alleviate the staff s concerns the protest
"I firmly believe that there is no liklihood
of any return to normalcy and unless the
injunction is granted the public would con-
tinue to experience great hardship and the
national interest continues to be put at risk
or jeopardised," Downes said.
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Errol Mc Leod
says the protest
action by workers
of the Immigra-
tion Division of
the Ministry of
and the sickout by
pilots was illegal.
Mc Leod made
the comment dur-
ing yesterday s
response to ques-
tions on the Public
action at passport offices in Port-of-Spain and San
Fernando and the CAL sickout earlier this week,
which disrupted service and caused inconvenience
to the general public.
Mc Leod said the Industrial Relations Act (IRA)
"identifies particular operations in the national
economy as being essential service and essential
Without naming the specific industries, Mc Leod
said there was a procedure that ought to be followed
in the collective bargaining process and in occu-
pational health and safety procedures. Action taken
outside of those procedures "would be identified
as illegal action," he said.
Asked if the specific action taken by the PSA
members was illegal, Mc Leod, a former president
general of the Oilfields Workers Trade Union
(OWTU), said: "It is illegal."
Asked what specific action could be taken against
the workers for their alleged illegal action, Mc Leod
said the law was clear on that issue. He said the
management of the organisations and unions would
be familiar with the actions they could take in such
In fact, McLeod said management at CAL and
the Licensing Division were taking action in respect
of the protests and it would be the responsibility
of the management or the union to take action as
a consequence of any breach of the IRA.
Mc Leod also refused to respond to threats by
PSA president Watson Duke that he would force
an early general election if any disciplinary action
were to be taken against the workers who engaged
in the action.
In response to another question about an immi-
nent labour unrest in the country, Mc Leod said
he would advise trade unions and their members
to pay attention to the provisions of the law.
Friday, July 4, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Immigration chief on PSA protest:
Hardship for public
A policeman gives way to a woman carrying a baby to get early access to the Immigration Division on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, as
workers returned to duty yesterday. PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
Mc Leod, in a secondary affidavits, said
it was clear to him that the PSA and its
members in the department had
embarked on a deliberate course to compel
the government to agree to their demands
on terms and conditions of employment,
without having regard to the conse-
quences it would have on citizens.
The minister said he decided to seek the
injunction after receiving complaints from
numerous MPs and government ministers,
including National Security Minister Gary
Griffith, under whose purview the depart-
Mc Leod also said he personally received
complaints from members of the public
who claimed to have suffered financial,
personal and other hardships from their
inability to obtain or renew passports during
the seven-week protest period.
"The situation is exacerbated by the fact
that some of these persons have already
made travel arrangements for which they
have paid and have now found themselves
in a position where they are unable to travel
because of their inability to obtain a pass-
port," McLeod said.
The decision came at the end of a day
where scores of people once again lined
up outside the Port-of-Spain and San Fer-
nando immigration offices hoping to get
or renew passports.
The ministry was represented by Senior
Counsel Russel Martineau and attorneys
Addison Khan and Derek Ali.
Numerous public complaints
says Mc Leod
for 3rd JULY, 2014
Labour Minister Errol Mc Leod
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