The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has scored a major victory in their fight to secure compensation for temporary public officers, who were recently retrenched, some after giving ten or more years of continuous service.
This morning Acting Assistant General Secretary of the NUPW, Wayne Waldron told Barbados TODAY that on Monday, the union received confirmation of Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s commitment to advance the gratuities of 83 such workers, who had received their walking papers from the Ministry of Transport and Works during the first phase of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) programme. This decision followed a proposal from the union to Mottley two weeks ago
“We are happy that Government seems to be committed to settle the matter and [compensate] these MTW workers by advancing their gratuity. This way these workers are going to get a lump-sum payment for being terminated. Government would have made the promise that nobody will go home without compensation. So, we are happy that we have gotten some commitment from Government to compensate these 83 workers,” said Waldron.
The trade unionist explained that instead of workers waiting until retirement age, as the law instructs, they will be able to get their gratuity now. However, the workers will still be required to wait until the age of retirement for their pensions to kick in.
The NUPW spokesman revealed that this decision would not just apply to the 83 displaced MTW workers, but going forward, public officers in the same category will benefit, if they were placed on the breadline.
“Similarly, you are going to have to treat other people based on this same principle going forward. The NUPW said as much in its proposal and this was agreed to. So yes, it means that no longer will temporary workers with ten years of service be forced to walk away from their jobs emptyhanded,” he noted.
However, Waldron told Barbados TODAY that while the union is grateful for the settlement, Government needed to put its foot on the gas to expedite the process, as many of these retrenched workers were growing increasingly desperate with each passing day. According to the high-ranking NUPW official, the union is concerned for the well-being of this group, some of whom have expressed frustration to the point of suicide and violence.
“The issue now is how soon the process is going to move along to facilitate these workers by having these monies calculated and released. We want this process to be sped up because a lot of persons out there are calling the union every day. This is no joke, these persons are getting very angry, some are suicidal, some are on the verge of a mental breakdown and some are getting violent. The reality is that these are people that are accustomed to paying their bills on time but now they are being harassed by debt collectors and threatened with legal action,” he stressed.
He further argued that these workers had no business being in this position in the first place, noting that “even though you delayed their appointment and kept them temporary for ten years, they have the same rights as appointed officers and should not have gone home in
that manner. Instead these officers should have been part of some re-organization process where they would be considered for a comparable post and if none was found then they should have been compensated.”