At least three former Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) workers are still waiting to learn if they will receive gratuity payments following their retrenchment last year after nearly 20 years in the public sector.
The frustrated workers are also lashing out at the workers’ union representatives who they say are unable to advise them on if they will be able to receive the monies they believed is owed to them.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY in Queen’s Park the former workers say they are desperately seeking closure in a situation which is having an impact on their personal finances.
Forty-five-year-old Maria Bullen, a retrenched casual worker attached to the Mangrove Division, explained that after 18 years in the public service made up of eight years with Urban Development and ten years in the Ministry of Transport and Works, she visited the latter and was informed that she would be paid only for the last ten years and the rest would be captured in her pension when she reaches the appropriate age.
Bullen said that when she was transferred from the Urban Development Commission to the Ministry of Transport and Works, she received no settlement for the eight years she worked in the former.
“I was transferred from Urban to MTW and we came over with our years and the money that we were supposed to get for our years. I would like to know what is going on with it? I would like to know about our years from Urban and MTW combining as they are supposed to. They brought us in and put us to work without any payment from the Urban Development Commission,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Bullen, who said she has a son who is looking to further his studies, recalled that she was surprised when she received notice on October 23,, 2018 that she was being retrenched.
“I did not feel awful because I knew that something would happen as we were told that we would receive our packages. Then we only got six months’ of money from the National Insurance Scheme for working for those years and to get a job in Barbados is really hard right now. It is a difficult time for all of us,” she said.
At 45, Elvis Foster, a former heavy-duty worker, is having a similar experience. He said he would desperately like his gratuity as he owes a lot of money to the bank.
“I want to know about my money. When can I get my money? When can I get my money to pay who I owe, that’s all I need to know. I was very disappointed because I was not looking to get laid off as I have a very outstanding bill and I would love my money so I could get it sort out,” he said.
Foster told Barbados TODAY said he felt as though the trade unions were doing nothing to help them to get the money which is owed to them.
“I understood that when I was laid off we would have to get a package but nothing. I got vacation money and a month’s pay. I was calling and asking certain questions of the unions and they said they would give us letters and they never got back to us,” he said.
Forty-three-year-old Dale Hoyte told Barbados TODAY “I have been laid off about six months now and I am hearing that when we reach 60 years old that is when we will get our pension but I ain’t hear anything for the service we already have in. Are we getting compensation, or do we have to wait until we are 60?” he questioned.
Hoyte, also a former heavy-duty worker, called on Prime Minister Mia Mottley to urgently intervene so that they would know what they are entitled to.
“I am calling on the Prime Minister or somebody to come and let we know what is going on. I was laid off the 23rd October 2018. The only payment that I received was a month’s pay, vacation money and the little six-month money from unemployment,” he said.
When contacted Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers Wayne Walrond said the issue with the workers who have yet to be paid is one that the union is seeking to have resolved with a lump sum payment for their years in the sector.
“I do not know if these workers
understand that the whole issue with ten years and over is one that we are working on. What we are doing is looking to get a lump sum payment for them,” he told Barbados TODAY.
In spite of this, the three retrenched workers said that they would like to know if they have to wait more then a decade to receive the money owed to them.
An angry Bullen said: “Who brought up that you have to wait until 60 to get your gratuity money? They put out a statement that we were supposed to get a package, and everyone felt nice and if we are going home we going with all of our money and when we got there it was a different story. The Permanent Secretary was telling us and explaining to us why we could not get all of the money that is owed to us. National Conservation Commission workers took
two years before they received their money and they want us to wait until we are 60!” she said