Immigration officers back on the job

IMMIGRATION officers who went on strike over a number of issues on Wednesday morning returned to work by the same evening after an intervention by the Ministry of National Security.

Granville Valentine, general secretary of the National Workers Union, told the Jamaica Observer that Security Minister Horace Chang met with him on Wednesday and another meeting was scheduled for Monday, at which time the issues are expected to be discussed.

“We are looking for a positive outcome on Monday. We have indicated to our members to return to normalcy, gradually. We have [also] been working with the ministry behind the scenes,” he said.

Among the issues that prompted industrial action included the interdiction of immigration officers and the non-payment of a special allowance to officers.

“Persons were being interdicted without due process. A man turns up to work and he is called into a meeting and is handed an interdiction letter. He did not have an interdiction interview and the union was not involved but he is interdicted with half his pay. He is punished for an allegation that is made.

“The next one has to do with a special allowance. This special allowance is paid to all immigration officers but they have been only paying to officers at the airports. Our position is that it cannot be. When you forcefully transfer a worker from the airport to an outpost like the wharf or passport office, that worker’s pay cannot change.

“The special allowance amounts to $48,000 which includes their lunch subsidy for a month. You are working for the same company, in the same country, and in the same kind of environment — how can you take that away from them? When they are forcefully transferred, these persons’ pay reduced by $48,000 a month. That is absolute madness. They keep kicking the can down the road. Every day you carry the bucket to the well, one day the bottom will drop out. It has happened,” Valentine said.

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