Minister sounds stern warning against staying away from work on Friday

Minister of Public Administration, Marlene Mc Donald is seeking to discourage citizens from adhering to calls made by labour leaders, to stay away from their jobs on Friday.

In a statement issued on Monday, the ministry said the minister wishes to discourage citizens from taking "such irresponsible and injudicious action".

She is reminding public servants that, as a rule, persons employed in the essential services are prohibited from withholding their services whether or not in sympathy with institutions in which they are not employed.

"Such employees include Members of the Defence Force, the Public, Prison, Fire and Teaching Services and Central Bank employees. Should any of these prohibited employees breach the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) they are subject to fine and imprisonment," the statement said.

It adds that that, in spite of the prevailing adverse economic circumstances, in keeping with the tenets of good Industrial Relations Practice, Government has only recently had to borrow approximately $5 billion to honour the commitment imposed upon the current administration by the previous regime, on the eve of the 2015 General Elections, to liquidate arrears of salaries and other emoluments due to public servants.

"The Government willingly and wholeheartedly discharged that responsibility," the statement said.

It added: "In addition, Government has been sparing no effort to protect the jobs of public servants and others resulting in the fact that, unlike other neighbouring countries, there has been no retrenchment in the Public Service of Trinidad and Tobago."

The statement notes that public servants who stay away from their jobs without authorisation in response to "irrational and irresponsible calls from certain labour leaders", run the risk of being recorded as absent from work without pay.

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