Michael Annisette

The union representative, Seamen and Waterfront Workers’ Trade Union (SWWTU) president Michael Annisette

SEAMEN and Waterfront Workers Trade Union president general Michael Annisette said he would not comment on a call by Public Services Association president Watson Duke for public service workers to stay home tomorrow, but called on the public to ask why were there so many problems within Government entities.

Annisette was speaking following Saturday’s call by Duke for all workers to stay home on Tuesday as a show of solidarity with Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) workers.

Last week, Public Utilities Minis­ter Marvin Gonzales said a Cabinet sub-committee report described WASA’s management structure as “top-heavy”.

WASA currently has 426 managers and 4,803 employees.

Duke said on Saturday that the Government was trying to weaken families, accusing it of destroying “working men with families, leaving them fearful”.

He said he and other union leaders met earlier and declared that Tuesday was a day of solidarity.

The Express also attempted to contact Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU) president general Ancel Roget and Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) head Mario Als, but they did not respond.

Although Annisette would not say yes or no to supporting Duke, he slammed Government’s handling of WASA, saying it should have engaged the unions while examining the operations of the State entity.

Besides being overstaffed, the Cabinet report added that WASA’s management had “ceded control of the authority to the unions, to the point where the union had now effectively subsumed many of management’s responsibilities”.

“The fact that the Government appointed a committee to look into WASA without engaging the unions, I thought was rather insensitive and it demonstrates a fundamental breach of natural justice,” said Annisette.

He said that Gonzales’ criticism of WASA management and the employees “had no place in modern society as workers and the union must be given an opportunity to defend themselves”.

“I think the question that the public has to ask is why is it that we have so many problems within government entities. Is it because of the unions, management? What is responsible and no one is asking these fundamental questions,” he added.

“WASA would have gone through transitions already but we still have a perennial problem of non-delivery of an efficient and productive service to the general population.”

Annisette accused Government of hiding behind workers and unions, adding that the country needed a fundamental change where “discipline, production and tolerance becomes a reality”.

“This economy will not survive on old talk but discipline, because we have to transform and get rid of these same politicians who get jobs for their friends,” he said.


As the country recorded an alarming seven new Covid-19 deaths yesterday, among them was a young medical doctor.

Dr Shival Sieunarine, 33, died in the Intensive Care Unit of the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, where he had been taken for treatment after falling severely ill.

In a 30-minute virtual funeral service, friends and relatives said goodbye yesterday to the Siparia father and son who died from the Covid-19 virus hours apart last week.

Five relatives were allowed to witness the double cremation at Belgroves Funeral Home and Crematorium in San Fernando.

The Covid-19 death toll continued to increase alarmingly, with seven more deaths being recorded by the Ministry of Health yesterday.

The death toll jumped from 196 on Friday to 203 by yesterday evening.

It is the second time this number of deaths has been recorded in one day since the start of the pandemic.

The Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine is safe and has undergone a rigorous assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

This was Health Minister Terrence Deyal­singh’s response to Oro­­pouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal yester­day after Moonilal warned people to be cautious about being used as “guinea pigs” for the vaccine, which only has emergency-use approval.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s tears have moved Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez to act decisively to put an end to liming on the Brian Lara Promenade.

Effective immediately, the Promenade is entirely off-limits.

The public will not be allowed to even walk through the Promenade and should instead use the pavements.