More public sector protests planned for Turks and Caicos
Public sector workers are protesting new austerity measures announced by the government including planned jobs cuts.
PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos, Wednesday November 23, 2011 - Public sector workers have threatened a second wave of industrial action today over new austerity measures announced by the government.
The administration plans to slash 300 jobs by December 9 and increase some fees and duties to rein in spending and deal with revenue shortfall.
In response, more than 200 angry teachers, immigration agents, doctors and government clerks went on strike yesterday, disconnecting electricity to government buildings, and forcing the closure of public schools, The Turks and Caicos Sun said.
The situation has fueled anti-United Kingdom sentiments in the British Overseas Territory where parts of the constitution were suspended since August 2009.
“We’ve had enough of the British Government and their oppressive policies,” said Dr. Rufus Ewing, President of The Civil Service Association, “Enough is enough.”
In a media release, Martin Stanley, Chief Executive of the TCI government urged residents to exercise patience because they “will not receive the usual high standard of public service on strike days.”
“I would also ask those strikers who work with the vulnerable members of our society to continue to balance their desire to protest with ensuring that there is adequate service provision to the needy,” he said.
“While there is no law against striking in the TCI, clearly there are consequences for workers who do strike, such as losing a day’s pay.”
Last week, TCI Chief Financial Officer, Hugh McGarel-Groves projected that government revenue shortfall could increase to US$35 million from the US$8.5m that was initially anticipated, if no action was taken.
He said revenue-generating measures will take effect from December 1, 2011 including a 2 per cent increase in the Customs Processing Fee, and a 20 per cent hike in the import duty tariff on alcohol and tobacco.