‘IS Customs about to be excised?’ That’s just one of the many questions on many minds today, as Customs officers head to a meeting with their trade union to find out.
The social media was busy this past weekend with a story from an unstated source claiming that Customs officers are asking their union ‘to find out what is the government’s plans for Customs…’
The viral claim was said to have been made ‘following reports from a credible source that [Prime Minister] Allen Chastanet has signed on the dotted line for an agreement to have a Border Patrol Agency, which will merge Customs and Immigration.’
The online statement claims the proposed statutory body ‘will see all present employees of Customs having to resign and reapply for positions with the new entity.’
The unattributed but widely circulated statement claims that ‘Some managers at Customs are said to have been in on the negotiations and have carved generous arrangements for themselves in facilitating the hammering of the agreement.’
No official details have been released of late, but THE VOICE can confirm that plans are indeed afoot for establishment of a Border Control Agency that will marry resources and personnel of the Customs & Excised and Immigration Departments.
The plan was proposed soon after the last general elections and is reported to be far advanced, with a former Comptroller of Customs being the main architect and leading the process towards implementation.
A source with knowledge of the plan has confirmed to THE VOICE that it is “way ahead,” but is challenging the claim that Customs Officers will have to resign their current jobs and reapply.
“It doesn’t make any sense to upset the apple cart before the start by upsetting the very same people who are to ensure a smooth transition from Customs to the new border agency,” the knowledgeable source said.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the government source continued, “It just will not make sense to ask Customs officers to resign and reapply. So what about the Immigration officers? They too? That would be simply ludicrous, to put it mildly…”
And what about today’s meeting?
The source replied, “The union is doing what unions do – seeing about its members interests.
“I can tell you that, as far as I know, no Customs officer has been asked to resign and reapply; and if that was so, the union would be in its right to do and say things.
“But in this case I’d rather suspect they are simply fishing.”
But Customs officers don’t seem to be comfortable with the rumours, claims and counter-claims and were said to have asked their union, the Civil Service Association (CSA) to get involved.
Answers to their many questions may be too slow in coming, so the CSA seems to be leaving nothing to chance and has summoned its members at the Customs and Excise Department to an urgent meeting today to discuss the issue.
According to the invitation from CSA General Secretary Claude Paul, “All employees of the Customs and Excise Department who are members of the CSA, are asked to be in attendance, to discuss your concerns about the government’s intention to create a Border Control Agency and the implications of this decision for the staff of the Customs & Excise Department.”
The meeting is scheduled for 3.00p.m .at the CSA Auditorium at Sans Soucis.