FLASHBACK - PSA President Watson Duke speaking during a press conference at PSA Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain.

Public Services Association (PSA) President, Watson Duke wants the government to remove the subsidy on water rates to save workers at the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA).

Duke told the media at a press conference at the PSA Head Office yesterday, that he understands the government has plans to restructure the WASA because the state agency was overstaffed by some 4,000 workers.

“Did those workers, just appeared in WASA one day? Did they sleepwalk into WASA and no one knew how they got there or was is it the state that over the last five years employed these people,” he asked.

“So while they are cutting the staff up they are busy adding staff also, so how did these workers get there?”

Public Utilities Minister, Marvin Gonzales has said the biggest challenge WASA is being faced with is mounting debts, given that the state agency is owing millions of dollars and are currently being faced with legal action from private contractors.

He noted these problems had been a plague for over the last 20 years.

Duke told the media the only solution to this is to increase rates as the state agency produces a gallon of water for just about 30 cents and it is still subsidized. At this rate he said WASA cannot pay any of its bills.

“Stop trying to number the amount of persons who are employed at WASA and give WASA the rate increase that is so long deserved and have been asking for. We are proposing that the WASA rates be increased to the cost of producing a gallon of water. Take off the subsidy,” he said.

Duke added, “I will let them know that I am willing to fight with everything I have for the protection of workers and I state to WASA workers you have nothing to fear, put your boots on and be prepared to make whatever sacrifice that would be made. But the government must know that when you attempt to interfere with the most important resource because it looks politically savvy…you must understand that workers will resist.”

Duke also announced that the date of the PSA elections will be released today.

He is hoping that the National Budget is working-class oriented, giving the working class more spending power.