An investigation is to be carried out into complaints that the nearly 200 retrenched National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers have not been paid unemployment benefits, more than a month after applying to the National Insurance Department.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) is expressing grave concern about the situation, even as it continues to wait for the Employment Rights Tribunal to name a date for the start of hearings on the matter.
NUPW senior industrial relations officer, Wayne Walrond told Barbados TODAY this afternoon the union will have to carry out a probe into the “many” complaints it’s been receiving from workers, especially considering the hardship they are already experiencing.
“Based on complaints we continue to receive from workers that they have not received their unemployment benefits, we would have to further investigate this situation with a view to ascertaining what the position [is] with National Insurance and the paying of unemployment benefits to these workers,” he added.
He noted that the 187 workers received their retrenchment letters on April 30 and most of their applications had been submitted by the end of May.
“Obviously, some [workers] would have waited a week or two to be assured whether they should really pursue the terminal benefits, but let us say by the middle of May [or] end of May most workers could have put in their applications for the benefits. So by now, there should have been some processing for payment. We are very concerned,” Walrond stated.
Last week, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler told Barbados TODAY that he was happy some of the 3,000 retrenched public workers had started receiving their unemployment money, though it was not happening as swiftly as he would have liked.
The NUPW senior industrial relations officer also expressed some anxiety over the long wait in having hearings started before the Employment Rights Tribunal.
“The workers would have complied with all of the requirements requested by the tribunal in respect of the dispute with the National Conservation Commission regarding the termination of employees. We would have sent the claimant forms as a group claim and all of the names would have been attached,” he pointed out.
“We also would have submitted the affidavit with the required evidence and through our attorney at law, we would have complied with all of the provisions requested by the tribunal,” he said.
“At this stage we are waiting [for] a date from the tribunal. We sincerely hope it would be as soon as possible because one would appreciate that workers are still on the breadline and we would want this process to be as expeditious as possible. Even though we are going the legal route we would like it to be handled as quickly as possible so that the discomfort [the] workers are feeling, would be minimised based on the length of time,” Walrond told this newspaper.