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PSA president Watson Duke during a press conference yesterday, at the PSA building, Port-of-Spain.

Public Services Association president Watson Duke said Finance Minister Colm Imbert has acted illegally when he said that government will not be able to meet with public sector trade unions any time soon around the bargaining table.

According to Duke, his members, who are still living on 2013 wages, are troubled by the minister’s statements since the union currently has a negotiation proposal before the Chief Personnel Office.

In a media briefing at the PSA Head Office in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Duke accused the minister of “acting contrary to law and common sense.”

During a virtual news conference, the Finance Minister said if the Government attempts to pay wages there is a very high possibility of job loss in the sector.

“Mr Imbert is looking for a fight. Mr Imbert, what you are doing since 2015 to now is thrusting your fist in the face of workers and telling them to smell this. We are tired of your bully tactics and I want to refer to you the law,” Duke said.

He added, “In the Civil Service Act, Section 14 speaks about the PSA and the CPO negotiating salaries terms and conditions of employment. It has nothing to do with a politician, so we don’t have to talk to you and all we want you to do is to do your job and your job is also outlined in Section 14 of the Civil Service Act.”

The last time the PSA sat with the CPO was February and March of 2020.

“Mr Imbert, I ask you as the President of the PSA with all decency and all respect to your office to retract those words and to give the CPO an offer so we the PSA can continue our negotiations. Now is the month of February and I will give you the first week in March to do so. Advise your CPO to call us, to meet at the table, to continue our negotiations that are mandatory by law, that we negotiate and salaries are not based on what the government can pay but based on what is required for the workers to live and you can’t pay workers something that will reduce them to poverty”, the PSA President said.