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Airport security screeners to be made redundant

Airport security screeners to be made redundant

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While the completion of the Argyle International Airport (AIA) will mean jobs for some people, it means that others will be laid off.

On Wednesday, president of the Public Service Union (PSU) Elroy Boucher described as “cold-hearted” an announcement by the Ministry of National Security that some 26 airport security screeners who work at the ET Joshua Airport in Arnos Vale will be made redundant when the AIA opens.{{more}}

But, in response, on Wednesday via telephone, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security Godfred Pompey said that the screeners will be given the option of reapplying to the entity that will be given the contract to provide security screening at the AIA.

Boucher said that the PSU was recently informed that the aviation security officers were told by the director of airports Corsel Robertson that their jobs will be made redundant.

“The director of Airports has met with nine of them assigned at other areas of the service and they have been told in a very callous way that the next time you hear from Service Commissions is when you will get your letters of dismissal,” said Boucher, who described the move as “cold-hearted behaviour by the director, real cold hearted.”

He said that the Union has not been called in for a meeting, but the workers have been warned that they will lose their jobs. He said that some workers, on hearing about the pending dismissal, have had sleepless nights.

“Some workers have mortgage to pay, children to send to school. Some are

the only breadwinners and in a climate where the Government should be talking about employment, you are telling us that workers are going to be sent home,” said Boucher, adding that this situation is sending a negative message for the future.

“This is another incident in which the authorities have shown disrespect for the Union, as the Union should have been involved in the process,” said Boucher. He noted that from the moment that the decision was made to send home workers, the Government should have met with the Union to discuss alternative ways to deal with screeners.

He said that he has already written to Pompey and the chief personnel officer, “over a week ago to hold discussions, but have not heard from them on a matter of this urgency.”

He said that the next step is to write to Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, “because this is a matter that needs to be dealt with and the Union will not stand by idly and watch workers sent home.”

Boucher said that some of the workers were told go to the departments where they work and ask if there are positions available there.

On the issue, Pompey told SEARCHLIGHT that they have had an informal conversation with the Union and he has also written to them on it. He said that full disclosure will soon be made on the issue.

Pompey explained that in the region, St Vincent and the Grenadines is the only country that has airport screeners that are employed by the State.

“This is unique in the region,” he said, noting that the Government had issues with 10 of the current screeners and had to transfer them to different ministries.

He said that apart from the screeners, a number of technicians at the airport will also be made redundant.

“They will be severed because of Argyle. We indicated that they will have to apply with the new entity. We have met with them and we told them that they will be given preference,” said Pom­pey, who revealed that an advertisement will be posted and the severed workers will be given preference.

He said the workers will be sent home and fully compensated as soon as the all clear for the opening of the Argyle airport is given.

“They will be severed and fully compensated either at the end of year, or first thing next year. We are keeping the Union and the workers in the loop and this is keeping with international trend that no airport security is of government because disciplinary issues are difficult to handle with public servants. We have 10 officers reassigned to different bodies because of disciplinary issues,” said Pompey, who added, “we want a clean slate in terms of choices,­­­­­­ but the current crop will be given preference.”