Uncertainty hangs over the status of 370 workers currently employed in Government’s revenue-collecting agencies as it moves to merge them into a single Revenue Authority.
And today more than 200 workers turned up at the headquarters of the National Union of Public Workers on Dalkieth Road, St Michael, to seek guidance on the action to be taken from general secretary Denis Clarke and other senior members.
Speaking to members of the Press following the two-hour meeting, Clarke sought to identify some of the major concerns raised by several anxious workers, some of whom have been employed in the civil service for as many as ten years.
The veteran trade unionist said: “There have been a number of concerns that were raised this afternoon. Much to my surprise one of areas questioned was the salary bands presented. Persons have not received letters regarding the job offers; there are some who received job letters and when they look at the contents they realised that they have been given job offers with a salary lower than they are currently receiving. There is also the question of the secondment. They are not happy with how the term is written with regard to the secondment.
“So I have quite a few issues that we need to have clarified before the workers can sign acceptance of the jobs. On top of that there are quite a few officers who are not interested at all in going with the authority. They want to remain in the public service. They see no benefits, or no future for them inside the Revenue Authority.
“Then we have other officers with the type of posts that you do not have any new structure and they are at a loss as to where they are going to sit in that new structure. So we have to get issues like that clarified in order for them to make a decision,” he said.
He added that the workers were told they had until March 26 to make a decision, adding: “We think that that is extremely too short given the fact that they were only granted the letters of offer around Thursday or Friday last week.”
“I do not know how one can expect the workers to reasonably sit and analyse the situation and then make a decision like that. It is quite unsatisfactory and therefore they are asking that there be an extension of the time for them to study the terms and conditions that they now have. We are looking at around the same period in the month of April,” Clarke said.
Examining the time-frame set by government for the establishment of the Revenue Authority, Clarke said: “The Government has to know what it is doing. You do not ‘ram’ people into a situation that is dealing with their livelihood. It is something that we were trying to negotiate over time and the negotiations only came some sort of conclusion, not full conclusion, a couple weeks ago. So you cannot go and ‘ram it down the throats’ of the workers, they must have time to study it. We are not interested in where the legislation went. The legislation can go back to parliament just like what happened with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.”
Offering advice to workers who continue to receive the letters, Clarke stressed that until the union got all of the issues raised this afternoon resolved, the workers should not sign.
“We will sign when these issues are resolved because they are dealing with their terms and conditions of service which should be no less favourable than what they are enjoying at the moment. One of the things that we were asking for was an amendment of the Pensions Act. We have been given promise after promise and nothing has happened. These are the things that the workers have to sit down and look at. We will now have to sit with the Revenue Authority management and look at the issues that are of concern to the workers.”
Giving a time frame for the meeting with the management of the authority, the veteran trade union said it could happen as early as next week.