Eighty-three retrenched workers of the Ministry of Transport and Works are now set to receive their gratuity payments.
The workers who were severed from their positions under the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation Programme, commonly referred to as BERT, went home without receiving the expected payment because they had not reached the pensionable age.
Today, Minister in the Ministry of Finance Ryan Straughn piloted the Public Service Retrenched Workers Bill 2019 in Parliament making provision for the Accountant General to begin making payments to the affected workers from Government’s Consolidated Fund.
“This particular bill relates to those employees for whom their service would have exceeded ten years in that particular ministry which is different from the set of persons who would have been retrenched otherwise. Therefore, there was some pension consideration with respect to packages.
“This bill is seeking to make available to those persons the gratuity as it relates to the service they would have provided to Government within that ministry. So therefore Clause 2 speaks to the Accountant General being authorized to make the payments of gratuity and pensions out of the Consolidated Fund,” he said.
Straughn related that in normal circumstances public officers would only receive their gratuity at retirement. He however pointed out that in light of the October 2018 restructuring of the public service the Mia Mottley administration decided it was necessary that this category of workers receive their payments post haste.
“The Government of Barbados has taken a decision that those persons whom the retrenchment exercise impacted who have served more than ten years that they be given their gratuity as part of the compensation.”
The Member of Parliament for Christ Church East Central however made it clear that the retrenched workers would have to wait until 60 to be able to receive their pension.
“Persons will still have to wait until 60 for when they will receive the reduced pension but this bill is seeking Parliamentary approval to pay the gratuity part of that now so as to make sure that they [Government] are consistent with good industrial relations. It is clear Sir that while it is unfortunate that persons would have had to lose their jobs under the BERT programme, Government cares about the wellbeing of those persons and we feel quite strongly that these gratuities should be paid now,” he said.