Promised gratuity advancements are yet to materialize, unemployment benefits are about to run out and creditors are beating down their door.
This is the picture painted by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), of the plight of 83 workers retrenched from the Ministry of Transport and Works last October.
It is for this reason that Acting Deputy General Secretary of the NUPW Wayne Waldron is urging Government to cut out the bureaucracy and fulfil Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s promise to advance gratuities to these temporary workers, who were retrenched after giving ten or more years of continuous service.
“We have obviously been bombarded with a number of calls in recent times, but we are continuing to represent these workers. We know that there is a lot of discontentment with these workers because they owe their creditors and they have their families to feed. To make matters worse, their unemployment benefits would be finished at the end of this month and I know that these workers are in a very desperate financial situation and this is something that the union is very disturbed about,” Waldron told Barbados TODAY.
The outspoken trade unionist explained that the union has written to the relevant authorities but is yet to receive a definite time for workers to receive their monies.
“We are engaging the Ministry of the Civil Service on this matter and we understand that they are working on it. We are hoping that it will be resolved shortly but I can’t say if it would be a month or months, but we want this matter resolved, so that workers can get on with their lives,” he said.
Last month, the NUPW expressed elation that Mottley had agreed to the union’s proposal to advance the gratuity of those workers, which would have been otherwise due at the age of retirement. However even back then Waldron had warned that the patience of the workers was wearing thin. 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.
Since then, one worker took to social media to express her frustration with the slow pace of the process, which is being compounded by the bombardment of creditors.
The woman said, “all like now we still owe the banks. They keep calling by your place all the time. When they call my place, I does tell them to call Mia [Mottley] and the NUPW. I was paying the NUPW for 18 years and I still ain’t get no severance pay. Right now, I am on [high blood] pressure tablets because I studying my little severance pay to go and pay off the bank like anybody else.”
However, this morning Waldron urged creditors to be a little more patient as this group of workers had every right to expect security of tenure.
“In the first place the Government should not have sent home these types of workers because they had a right to be appointed. They should not have been retrenched. Government should have placed these workers in other areas of the public service,” he said.
Waldron added, “We are appealing to the creditors of these retrenched workers to bear with them a little longer. It is not their fault and they never anticipated after ten years with the Crown, they would be retrenched. Hopefully very soon they would get a lump sum of money to pay them.”