Postal workers give CPO one week to respond to demands

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TT Postal Workers Union (TTWPU) secretary general David Forbes, front-right, along with Ozzi Warwick, chief education and research officer of the OWTU, and president general of the OWTU Ancel Roget, centre, and members of the TTWPU, marched in front of the CPO’s building on Alexandra Street on February 26. – Photo by Joey Bartlett

THE Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) has been given one week to favourably respond to a letter from the Postal Workers Union demanding the implementation of an outstanding wage proposal of an 18.6 per cent increase based on a 2011 report and recommendation.

The union’s secretary general, David Forbes, led a group of members to the CPO’s office on Monday morning after gathering at Augustus Williams Square in Woodbrook.

They marched to the CPO’s office on Alexandra Street, singing and clapping in the mid-morning heat.

After delivering the letter to the CPO office, Forbes said workers felt disappointed by the lack of attention given to their wage negotiations in light of the proposed salary increase for parliamentary workers and how quickly their recommendation was given.

After delivering the letter to the CPO office, Forbes said workers felt disappointed by the lack of attention given to their wage negotiations in light of the proposed salary increase for parliamentary workers and how quickly their recommendation was given.

He said the union had sent a letter to the CPO in 2022 asking about the 2011 proposal but did not receive any acknowledgement or response. He questions the Salary Review Commission’s ability to fast-track the government report and proposal while workers still call for their proposed increase 14 years later.

He stressed that the letter is for the period in question, which is 2010. Forbes said the CPO’s office advised the union last year that the postal workers’ file had not reached their attention yet.

Forbes said that post-workers are also paying attention to the industrial court’s responses to cases brought by other trade unions centred around salary increases. But he reiterated that his union’s focus is solely on the job evaluation and review done in 2011, more so in light of the proposed increase for parliamentary workers.

“We expect a favourable response given what has been laid in parliament. What we are saying is that what is good for one should be good for all. It cannot be that we are living in a society where laws and processes are working for some and not for all.”

Forbes said that despite no wage increase, workers have taken on additional duties since the 2011 report, but their salaries have not reflected this. He said his organisation wants salaries to be paid retroactively, saying that since the 2011 review, some workers have retired and others have passed without getting their money.

“This is not the first time we have raised our concerns in public. Given what we have seen from the Salary Review Commission and how quickly they were able to process and make proposals for parliamentarian workers, we are saying that postal worker concerns have to be addressed just as quickly. We cannot do this alone and we are also calling for public support.”

He said that after one week if there is no feedback from the CPO, the union will immediately call a meeting and decide their next step.

He said the union wrote to the Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales, in February and they have not received any acknowledgement.

“We took note that the minister would have gone on record with the print media to say he did not receive any letter for the union; that is not true and after his remarks, we sent a follow-up letter and still have not heard from him.”

Head of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU), Ancel Roget, was present, lending his union’s support, saying postal workers and their union play a critical role within the Joint Trade Union Movement.

Roget stressed the urgency of implementing a review completed in 2011 and called the disparity between the increased benefits enjoyed by parliamentarians and the neglect of workers’ concerning.

He said that during the covid19 pandemic, government officials were absent while essential workers sustained the country’s operations. He expressed frustration at the lack of progress since the 2011 review and urged action, saying, “Enough is enough.”

Roget stressed the need for unity among unions, saying that collective action is essential to effecting change, warning against complacency and urging workers to stand up for their rights, saying no one will give them what they deserve unless they demand it.

Regarding communication with government officials, Roget criticised the lack of response to letters sent to the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert and the Minister of Public Utilities, Marvin Gonzales, calling their lack of acknowledgement disrespectful towards the union’s efforts in collective bargaining and calling for fair treatment and consistency in addressing workers’ concerns.

In a WhatsApp conversation with Marvin Gonzales, he said his office has no legal authority to interfere with or influence the terms and conditions of workers, including salary negotiations, saying it is the sole domain of the CPO.

“I am certain that the union representing the workers is fully aware of that fact.”

Gonzales said he did not receive any letters from the postal workers union.

“I respond to all letters sent to me. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen the letter. I recall seeing an email that was copied to me by the union some months ago that was sent to postal organisations around the world. It was copied for my attention, not my response.”