Tobago PSA plans ‘blackout’ to support Trini colleagues on Friday

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Hayden Duke, PSA industrial relations officer, Tobago region.

Tobago’s public servants will support their counterparts in Trinidad during Friday’s planned national shutdown and march in Port of Spain to protest the government’s latest wage increase offer.

However, Public Services Association’s (PSA) industrial relations officer, Tobago region, Hayden Duke, said on Tuesday the details of how they will show that support are still being finalised.

“The support will come not from the point of view of bodies being in Trinidad. It will be addressed in Tobago by means of possibly a ‘blackout’ – the wearing of jerseys or black material to indicate support for our colleagues in Trinidad,” he told Newsday.

“We may make the choice to use the colours green or black. But I think black will be the one that is preferred. It has been the colour of choice to show protest, strength, solidarity.

“We will definitely be supporting our colleagues in Trinidad.”

Last week, Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Dr Daryl Dindial offered public-sector workers a two per cent wage increase offer over eight years.

Dindial offered no increase for the period 2014-2017, one per cent for 2018, no further increase for 2019-2020 and one per cent for 2021.

Trade union leaders, at a news conference on Friday, described the offer as “disrespectful and insulting.”

During a media briefing at Piarco Airport on Sunday, the Prime Minister urged public servants to be calm and patient and to consider there were no job losses throughout the two years of the covid19 pandemic.

He said the intention was to balance any wage increase with public debt, using money from the $1.98 billion surplus Finance Minister Colm Imbert announced in the Mid-Year Review.

But trade union leaders have taken no comfort from the prime minister’s assessment and have asked public servants to prepare to fight the government on the wage increase offer.

On Tuesday, Duke said the two per cent offer was “a disrespect to the hardworking public servants both in Trinidad and in Tobago.

“Therefore, it is not something that we will accept. It is disgusting for the government of the day to look at workers over eight years and propose a preposterous figure of two per cent, which, if you divide it, it breaks down to just about 0.25 per cent per year. That cannot even buy one mint anywhere.”

He added, “This does not represent a government that indicated that they care. It does not give anybody any measure of comfort given all that has happened prior to covid19.”

Duke said a Labour Day march will be held in Tobago on June 19.

“It will be a means of indicating that labour is alive and well and the public servants are in support of their union, the PSA, in terms of going forward with negotiations for public servants across what has happened with covid19 and what is happening now.”

PSA president Leroy Baptiste said on Saturday an estimated 4,000 public servants work for the Tobago House of Assembly.