An Opposition Senator is taking the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) to task over its handling of negotiations on behalf of 83 temporary workers retrenched from the Ministry of Transport and Works last October after giving ten or more years of continuous service.
According to Caswell Franklyn, head of the Unity Trade Union, the deal to advance gratuities to these temporary workers who were not entitled to severance, demonstrated incompetence on the part of the NUPW.
Franklyn argued that Government essentially got away with paying the retrenched workers with their own money.
“NUPW is asking Government to pay these workers their gratuity early. What that union is doing is asking Government to compensate those people for sending them home with their own money. The gratuity is already their money; it is not the Government’s money,” said Franklyn.
He further argued, “That money was put down there for them because once you are a pensionable Government employee you get 20 per cent less than the person who is not pensionable. So that 20 per cent is kept for you. So that is their money and those workers are not being compensated, they are being robbed.”
Last month, the NUPW was elated that Prime Minister Mia 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. Acting Assistant General Secretary of the NUPW Wayne Waldron told Barbados TODAY, the union received confirmation of Mottley’s commitment to advance the gratuities.
The trade unionist explained that instead of workers waiting until retirement age, as the law instructs, they would be able to get their gratuity now. However, the workers will still be required to wait until the age of retirement for their pensions to kick in.
The NUPW spokesman revealed that this decision would not just apply to the 83 displaced MTW workers, but going forward, public officers in the same category would benefit, if they were placed on the breadline.
“We are happy that Government seems to be committed to settle the matter and [compensate] these MTW workers by advancing their gratuity. This way these workers are going to get a lump-sum payment for being terminated. Government would have made the promise that nobody will go home without compensation. So, we are happy that we have gotten some commitment from Government to compensate these 83 workers,” said Waldron at the time,
However, Franklyn argued that the law never intended for employees with more than ten years of service in public office to be sent home. He therefore argued that the NUPW should have taken the matter to court.
“I think the NUPW has displayed a measure of incompetence and they were under pressure to claim that they came up with something. They should have read the legislation first and come to a conclusion or put the thing in court and fight for these workers… It is absolute nonsense. This is not about the union trying to look good but rather ensuring that they get justice for these workers,” stressed the outspoken senator. [email protected]
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