26 September 2023

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Office working order ‘criminal act’

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The President of the Trinidad and Tobago Public Service Association (PSA) has described the Government’s decision to force Public Servants back into their offices while the COVID-19 pandemic is still in the community as a “criminal act”.

Watson Duke (pictured) said he was meeting with lawyers to see if there were any legal steps that could be taken to block the directive.

Mr Duke said the decision put his members in danger of their lives.

“Protections are still placed on church people — one hour, 50 per cent capacity in services; those going beach must stay in small groups, so why is the Public Service expected to get back to work at full throttle?” Mr Duke said.

“The offices are cramped for space; a lot of the places have too many staff for the room available,” he said.

Mr Duke said this was a “violation of the fundamental rights of the workers” under the Occupation Safety and Health Act.

“There are some things I’ll do as PSA President and I’m already exploring them. I will seek to engage a series of lawyers as to whether the Prime Minister’s words are legal or illegal and whether we can issue an injunction,” he said.

“The Prime Minister is endangering the lives of people. Come hell or high water we are going to file an action.”

Earlier, Prime Minister, Keith Rowley said he had reviewed the COVID-19 restrictions and it was now possible for the Public Service to be at full capacity.

“Permanent Secretaries, managers and supervisors will have to ensure that workplace distancing is observed in addition to proper sanitisation and no congregating in groups,” Dr Rowley said.

“The Public Service should be open to provide the service that the public needs, especially at this time,” he said.

Port of Spain, 28 October 2020

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