Hard times have fallen upon the Treasury Division. Yesterday an internal memo sent out to staff stated there were no funds to purchase water, toilet paper and paper towels.
Since last week, staff had begun purchasing their own bottles of water as the water dispensers were running dry.
In the memo, which the T&T Guardian obtained a copy of, acting comptroller of accounts Karen Seebaran-Timothy told staff it had been proposed that water filters be installed in the kitchen area as a long term solution to having to purchase water for the dispensers. However, she said the installation was at a cost and would take some time to be done, as they will have to get quotations before purchasing and installing the filters.
It the meantime, it was suggested that staff in each section contribute to the purchase of water to the cost of a bottle at $20, when the delivery van visits the office tomorrow. The memo noted that other ministries and department staff were contributing to the purchase of water, but if Treasury staff was not in agreement “each person will be responsible for their supply of water, toilet paper and paper towels.”
Finance Minister Colm Imbert was messaged and asked to confirm the situation and why funding was not available for the purchase of these items and to confirm whether this was the situation at other ministries and their departments. He was also asked to state the monthly or annual expense for such items.
In response, he said he was “not aware of any such memo” and would ask his permanent secretary to look into the matter. By late yesterday, however, Imbert had not responded. The communications department at the Ministry of Finance was also contacted for a response but none was given.
But president of the Public Services Association Watson Duke is threatening to take the ministry to court if any member complains that he or she is being denied of the basic items.
Duke said the Treasury Division would be in violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which under Section 39 and 40 mandates employers to provide and maintain a sufficient supply of cool, wholesome, drinking water at suitable points that are conveniently situated for all employees and adequate, clean and easily accessible washing facilities with soap and suitable hand drying materials or devices and such other provisions as are prescribed.
Duke said this was an “evil move” by the Government, saying workers were now spending most of their time worrying about the state of the country and whether they will soon be without a job as Government is seeking to retrench people in State companies.
“Government is saying that there is no money, but that is a lie. The Government continues to create signs that there is no money by retrenching people so workers are fearful. Government cuts all ministries’ budget by seven percent, by they are not paying contractors so business people are closing up shop and they are attacking people in homes with property tax. Now they have come as low as to deny workers basic things such as toilet paper and drinking water.
“If I see one complaint from any member, we will take this to a judicial review. No if, no but, no maybe,” Duke said.
SOURCE: www.guardian.co.tt (Kevon Felmine)