Operations to resume at POS Port today after “absent” workers caused service disruption

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Operations to resume at POS Port today after “absent” workers caused service disruption

The operations at the Port of Port of Spain was disrupted on Thursday as over 1,000 workers were absent.

Part of a strike action, the situation caused gridlock traffic heading into the capital for more than three hours, as trucks waiting to get onto the 5 pm sailing of the Cabo Star lined Wrightson Road, and at times blocked the entire westbound side of the major thoroughfare.

Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Union (SWWTU) president general Michael Annisette, in a GML interview, said there were a plethora of issues facing workers.

He said one of the main concerns was management’s decision to renege on a wage deal. He said while they signed off on a 12 per cent increase with the Port of Port-of-Spain management, the Government is now refusing it.

Annisette lamented, “In law, that is a legitimate agreement. When they (port workers) would have seen the kind of increases given by the Salary Review Commission to parliamentarians, that kind of raise anger because they were saying they don’t respect us enough. We were they’re working hard, and we are not being paid.”

He said the union negotiated in good faith with the port management for the 12 per cent increase over a three-year period.

“(Port) management got a letter from the Minister of Works and Transport telling management to offer us zero, zero, two per cent, notwithstanding the fact that we had a legitimate agreement that was exchanged between parties for 12 per cent for the same period.”
He said there were also health and safety concerns by the workers.

“Will you believe that there are workers [on the port] working in sneakers?”

He said workers also had issues with improper equipment, lighting and dilapidated tractor trucks.

“There is still the need for more equipment that is suited for modern ports,” he said, adding the issues had taken too long to be resolved.

In a release last evening, the Port Authority of T&T confirmed there was action by the workers which disrupted certain aspects of its operations.

It said there were no disruptions to the sailings of the APT James, Buccoo Reef and Cabo Star ferries, which sailed at 6.57 am, 4.03 pm and 4.10 pm respectively.

However, it said, “Due to absenteeism by equipment operators, all cargo operations were disrupted. Minimal deliveries at the One Stop Barrel Shop were facilitated.”

The authority said it expects that cargo handling operations will be fully resumed today.

The authority did not address the wage issue in the release.

The union has, however, given the port management seven days in which to address the issues in a “concrete and positive way.