The following is a press release from the Government of Trinidad and Tobago:

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT) wishes to deny claims by the President of the Public Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (PSA) and Minority Leader of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Watson Duke that it has sent home employees from the public sector and state enterprise companies.

Mr Duke’s latest tirade is a deliberately crafted attempt to put the workers of the country against the Government. It is meant to lure public sector workers into believing that their jobs are being perniciously terminated and their salaries denied.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Government has on many occasions implored the private sector to make every effort to ensure that they keep their employees intact for at least four (4) weeks and would continue to lead by example.

All citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are well aware of the stay at home measures in place. As a consequence, only those involved in the prescribed essential services are allowed to actually be at work and even then, in as low numbers, as to keep those services to continue to function efficiently in the best interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago. This is mandatory if Trinidad and Tobago is to flatten the curve in its well calculated determination to protect the precious lives of its citizens.

Government workers are assured that during this temporary period of dislocation, they will all be paid their salaries. In the case of the workers at the Hilton Trinidad and Convention Centre and the Magdalena Hotel in Tobago where, like the rest of the world, occupancy rates have been reduced to an all-time low, a skeletal staff has been retained and is being rotated. This is for purposes of security and maintenance.

In addition, the decision which was previously announced that the Hilton workers would have been sent home with total loss of pay, has been withdrawn. This has been as a result of the timely intervention by the Minister of Trade and Industry. These workers have since been assured of receipt of their salaries.

On the Job Training (OJT), the Unemployment Relief Programme (URP), Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) and Reforestation workers have all been assured that their salaries remain intact.

The GoRTT is confident that we speak on behalf of all the right thinking citizens of this country when we say how grievously we lament that, in the face of this most devastating pandemic we have to respond to Mr Duke’s irresponsible statements and implore him to follow the example set by the patriotic citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to display a level of dignity, decorum and sensitivity at this time.

To do otherwise, is to undermine the initiatives which are being taken by the dedicated and committed front line health care professionals and support staff, who continue to work to free Trinidad and Tobago from the ravages of COVID-19.

Senator the Honourable Donna Cox