Wednesday, January 20, 2021
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Tax Office workers strike

Barrington Flemming – Staff Reporter

Operations at the Western Regional Office of Tax Administration Jamaica, TAJ, Howard Cooke Boulevard, Montego Bay, grounded to a halt on Tuesday as workers took industrial action to press home their demands for the management to immediately take steps to deal with long standing air quality issues, sparked by mold infestation of the building.

The workers withdrew their service on Tuesday, citing that despite their protestations to management, nothing has been done to correct what is a worsening situation.

It left many taxpayers stranded in long queues waiting to be served, but no one to assist them.

One medical practitioner, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that he has had to treat several workers from the TAJ presenting with respiratory issues in recent months and based on the frequency and severity of the cases, had written to the TAJ administration urging that the matter be addressed urgently.

A taxpayer who went to the office on Tuesday to pay property taxes said while she had to curtail the transaction because the workers were not available based on what she was hearing, she sided with the workers and is also calling on the management to remedy the issue.

“I came to pay taxes for my property and saw workers on the outside and went in and saw that the line was not moving. I subsequently heard that there are air quality issues in the building. This is serious matter; why are they allowed to work in such conditions with so many diseases around, especially corona now? They should address the matter now, put up signs at all entry points to warn the public,” she said.

Another potential client who came to renew his driver’s license said he was disgruntled because some notice should have been given. However, he was critical of the administration.

“This place is making millions of dollars a day and the management should do much better. They should ensure that the workers are properly taken care of. Whatever the issue is, they need to address it so the workers can be comfortable to serve the public.”

Up to press time, the TAJ management and workers were locked in a meeting seeking to hammer out an agreement as to whether the workers would resume duties today, pending investigation and remedial action to address the vexed issue.

The workers have vowed not to return to the building until the issues have been addressed.

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