Deputy Governor David Archer Jr. insisted last week that customs officers were not planning a strike over unpaid increments. (Photo:FACEBOOK/H.M. CUSTOMS)

Last week Deputy Governor David Archer Jr. denied online reports that customs officers were planning a strike over unpaid increments.

“Earlier today, I was invited to a meeting by the financial secretary to meet with members of His Majesty’s Customs Department,” Mr. Archer said in a statement issued July 19.

Premier there too

The meeting, he added, was also attended by Premier Dr. Natalio “Sowande” Wheatley and representatives from the Customs Welfare Association and the Ministry of Finance.

“The association made it clear that their goal was to discuss their purpose, address matters impacting customs officers and to ascertain a detailed update on outstanding increment payments,” the deputy governor explained.“They further shared that they did not plan to strike as a result of increments not being paid but wanted to get an update and offer their support in the processing of increments.”

A strike by customs officers would likely be illegal: The 2010 Labour Code prohibits strikes in “essential services” including “port services” on penalty of a fine up to $10,000.


Last week, Mr. Archer described a productive discussion.

“A bountiful discussion on the importance of customs officers to matters of national security and economic stability culminated in solutions to address a number of organisational matters outside of increment payments,” he said. “As such, I would like to unequivocally dispel any rumours of customs officers striking as a result of increments not being paid.”

He also provided an update on outstanding increments.

To date, he said, 1,420 of 2,261 eligible public officers have been paid their outstanding performance-year increments, with arrears, for 2018 and 2019.

“It is important to note that the processing of increments for eligible customs officers has begun, with over 40 percent of eligible customs officers paid,” he added. “Following my circular shared on [July 14], we have now received 98 percent of the needed documentation to begin processing increment payments for the balance of customs officers.”

The initial payments, he said, were made to officers with no changes to their employment during those years.

Others, however, “require a more complex calculation per officer” that will require more time, according to the DG.

“Regarding the overall public service, we have processed an additional increment payroll for this month on [July 18],” he said. “The Ministry of Finance has assured that officers who were paid increments during this payroll should expect to see funds by tomorrow. This is due to processing time required by the banks to complete the transaction.”

Payroll officers are also working “overtime” to ensure that the rest of the outstanding increments for 2018 and 2019 are paid as soon as possible, “provided that all outstanding increment reports and letters are submitted by heads of departments” by July 19, according to Mr. Archer.

He added, “I have seen good progress following my last circular.”

Mr. Archer also warned about the “importance of government services” and the impact of closures created by strikes.

“All efforts will be extended to address any concerns made by officers which could impact the delivery of government services,” he said.

Previous reports

In recent weeks, government officials have also denied online reports attributing two airport closures to strikes — first by air traffic controllers on May 26 and then by firefighters at the Terrance B. Lettsome International Airport on July 17.

Such industrial action also appears to be banned by the 2010 Labour Code, which also prohibits strikes by workers in fire-and-rescue and transportation services.