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CARIRI Branch Secretary Racine Robertson and Branch President Ketler Modeste deliver a letter and petition to the Ministry of Planning and Development, Eric Williams Financial Complex, Port-of-Spain yesterday.

The Banking, Insurance, and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) is calling on the Ministry of Planning and Development to release funds to cover the salary increases and back pay awarded to employees of the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (Cariri) by the Industrial Court.

Speaking with Guardian Media after delivering a letter and petition at the ministry’s office at Eric Williams Plaza in Port-of-Spain, yesterday morning, acting BIGWU President Mario Als said that although the court ordered that the payments should occur by January 15, last year, no workers have been paid.

“This has been creating some significant discord among the population of workers because the matter is long outstanding. These workers have been living on 2013 salaries for the longest while,” Als said.

“We view this as extremely contemptuous of the institution that is the Industrial Court and the order that it has given. This morning, we are seeking to send a message that this cannot continue,” he added.

Als also warned that the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) were monitoring the situation as it appeared to be in line with a statement made by Finance Minister Colm Imbert over pending negotiations with trade unions for State employees.

“They are observing what is taking place because this can only lead to the destination of conflict and we are hoping to avoid that,” Als said, as he noted that the union was giving the ministry a final opportunity to comply before it decisive action.

According to reports, the wage dispute between the parties reached the Industrial Court after negotiations for 2013, 2014, and 2015 broke down.

In January, last year, the court ordered that the workers be paid salary increases, Cost of Living Allowance (COLA), and corresponding back pay.

The dispute affects a little over 140 workers employed by the State-owned organisation, which conducts research and laboratory testing.