No money as yet for the 300 Drainage Unit workers who were sent packing since last month.
And following a closed-door meeting with them earlier today, general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Dennis Clarke told reporters, the NUPW was treating this issue as a matter of urgency, considering some of these employees were way behind in their bills and even had their utilities disconnected.
Clarke said he was surprised to discover that the workers had neither received their unemployment money nor the one month’s pay in lieu of notice of termination.
“The meeting [today] was to bring them back here, where we can now discuss with them alternative arrangements to help them out in their current need and to get all the information regarding the unemployment that is due to them and notice of pay that is also due to them,” the union boss pointed out.
“We were little bit surprised,” the veteran trade union leader added, “given the letters . . . they brought the letters this time to see that they should have had one month’s pay in lieu of notice, and this is accordance with the letter of employment that they would have had.”
Clarke said the union was able to pull all that information together and would be seeking to meet with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of the Environment, “because we would have already agreed that we would have written to him and meet with him; so given this situation now, we got to move, more or less with urgency to deal with this matter, because these workers have not received any money since they were laid off at the end of December and obviously they are out of pocket.”
The NUPW boss said the workers were complaining they have not been able to send their children to school, “some of them, their electricity has been disconnected, so it is a question of their trying to get some money to look at those immediate needs, including the needs of their children”.
Clarke noted, too, that the union sought to gather data on the various skills sets among the laid off Drainage Unit workers,
in order to assist them in finding alternative employment.
“Because, surprisingly enough, the qualifications, or the skills that these workers have, one wondered why they were into the type of low level work that they were employed in . . . but what we have here is a bit shocking; a good few of them, they have good skills that they can work in any office, in any establishment in this country,” declared the general secretary.
President of the union, Walter Maloney, also added that their skills ranged from painting, masonry and truck driving to data base management, administrative and clerical to supervisory management. Maloney said these workers wanted to maintain their families and therefore took the first job that came along.
Armed with this information, he told reporters the NUPW would look to cushion the impact of the retrenched employees and point them in the direction of alternative employment, either self or otherwise.
“So we look at the skills that they have; if it means then we have to go to Government to see if we can get particular packages for these people so that they get employment, whether in then agriculture sector, whether it’s for painting or plumbing, whether it’s using their own skills that they would have learnt over the years,” he stated.
The union president emphasised that the trade union was therefore setting up a database to see where the skills are and determine how best those skills could be channelled for future employment.