An official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Port of Spain confirmed that since Monday, 11 employees who are all Indian nationals, have refused to report for duty because wages have not been increased for the past six years.
On Thursday, the commission opened its doors to Indian nationals seeking visas and information regarding business prospects in TT, but Newsday learned that three TT nationals stationed there and High Commissioner Dave Persad, were the only persons who turned up for work at the New Delhi offices.
Efforts to contact the High Commissioner yesterday proved futile, but a source in the Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed the action taken by Indian employees which stemmed from the refusal by the TT government to increase salaries since 2011. Attorney Dave Persad was appointed by the current government as TT’s High Commissioner to India with accreditation to Indonesia, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
Newsday learned that the Indian staff who have refused to turn up at the commission office since Monday, comprise consulate employees such as those working in the registry, reception, drivers, cleaners and gardeners. They comprise 11 and are paid in rupees which is India’s national currency.
The Trinidad and Tobago government foots the bill.
There are two staff members from Trinidad and Tobago, excluding the commissioner, who is the Head of Chancery and the financial attache, posted at the commission. Ministry sources said that Commissioner Persad has been meeting with the disgruntled workers.
“He has been trying his utmost best, but it seems the employees have put their foot down and are not letting up.
Remember, this is a problem we the government inherited from the People’s Partnership administration,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry source said.
Newsday was told that the strike has adversely affected the work of the commission, even in promoting economic relations between Trinidad and Tobago and India as well as the other accredited countries. One of the main functions of the commission in relation to promoting business, is to attract investment from India, Singapore, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
The commission also provides visas, passports and advice to TT nationals living in India and the other accredited countries.
The ministry source said if the staff refuse to show up to work for a protracted period, the functions of the Commission will cease and there is a possibility the Consulate would be closed down.
Source: Newsday http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,247648.html