NUPW threat

Trouble may be brewing at the Customs and Excise Department as well as the Immigration Department.

General secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Richard Green has put management on notice of industrial action if certain long-standing grievances are not addressed “as a matter of urgency”.

He told the DAILY NATION that some of these matters date back as far as five years and are based on earlier agreements yet to be honoured. 

Among the grievances are outstanding travel allowances and overtime payments, uniform allowances, conditions of service in several outstations, remote stations and sheds. Green said the patience of workers had worn thin and they were now demanding immediate action. 

“The NUPW is currently monitoring a situation in the Customs Department and the Immigration Department that could possibly lead to industrial action. There have been a number of outstanding matters affecting the two departments that have impacted negatively on the morale and on the productivity of the staff. Some of the workers have approached the NUPW asking us to urgently address these matters on their behalf,” Green said.

“Some of these matters have been outstanding for as much as five years and the situation is now at a point where it is untenable,” he added.

Stressing that industrial action was something which the union hoped to avoid, the general secretary revealed that a meeting was held with the shop stewards, after which the concerns were submitted in writing to both Government departments requesting a meeting with the heads.

He pointed out that this was also a matter of maintaining confidence in the negotiation process, noting that if there was no follow-through, workers might no longer be inclined to trust the process. 

“In these departments there is continuous discussion around grievances. Some have been resolved while some will be resolved in the future. However, these matters have simply been outstanding for way too long.

“There were previously agreed arrangements that would have been enforced but not adequately followed up throughout the departments,” Green explained. 

He said these issues had been brought to the fore at a time when officers in both departments were facing increased pressures associated with the job.

“The customs officers and the immigration officers have been very patient over the time, but their patience is running thin now, hence the reason why they have approached the union for a rapid response,” he said.

Efforts to reach Chief Immigration Officer Margaret Inniss and Comptroller of Customs Owen Holder for a response were unsuccessful.

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