If the Mia Mottley Government does not keep its promise to restore invalidity pensions to affected persons by the end of this month, the administration may face a lawsuit.
Trade union leader and Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn warned this afternoon that he will be filing a class action law suit in the High Court against the administration if the close to 200 persons deprived of their pensions do not received payment.
Senator Franklyn told Barbados TODAY a letter was being sent to the Government putting it on notice of the deadline and of his intentions.
“I am inviting people who want to challenge the abatement of their pensions…I plan to take the matter to court because a lot of them have been complaining that they don’t have the money or wherewithal to do so. So I have contacted some lawyers and we are going to seek to bring the matter before the court for a decision, one way or the other,” the outspoken legislator said.
He told Barbados TODAY, “These people are entitled to their pensions.”
“The problem is that a lot of these people are not in a position to pay for legal counsel, so they would suffer. I am not going to let that happen,” an adamant Franklyn declared.
He claimed that some people were getting their benefits but not others…and he is asking everyone who is affected to register for the law suit… “because that is what we will do if the Government refuses to reverse its decision”.
“And it is not only this administration. It happened in 2014. They still owe those people their money.”
“I will be writing them to tell them that they have until the end of the month to restore the people’s pensions. Failing that, we will go to court,” the legislator emphasized.
Franklyn told Barbados TODAY that so far, he has five people who have expressed an interest in suing the Government, but his call for all others is to “make it one big case”.
The five, he said “can barely find food”.
“The Government is absolutely wrong. There is no law that allows them to do what they have done. They can only reduce people’s pension when they reach 67 – the National Insurance pension age. For any other benefit, you retain your pension,” the General Secretary of the Unity Trade Union pointed out.
Earlier this month, Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Roy Morris disclosed that the 190 Barbadians who stopped receiving invalidity pensions, some dating back 15 months, would be getting their cheques again from this month.
Morris said then that the action followed a directive from Director of Finance and Economic Affairs, Ian Carrington the first Friday in the month instructing the Accountant General on the approach that should be taken to restore the cancelled pension.
According to the press secretary, Prime Minister Mia Mottley intervened in the matter in July after considerable public criticism of how it had been handled, adding that she would monitor the situation in the weeks following to ensure a smooth reinstatement.
Janice Harris who had been leading a public campaign protesting against the cut in the pensions, told Barbados TODAY, she will not be getting involved in any lawsuit because she is confident the money will be paid by the end of this month following the intervention of the Prime Minister.
“Before, the Prime Minister had not given the authorization to Ian Carrington. The Treasury could not pay the money without authorization. All I am interested in now…and I thank God that the money will be paid…so I am not getting involved in anything more. The mission has been accomplished. I done wid that,” Harris said tonight. [email protected]