Government is to pay $2 million to public workers who helped clean up the volcanic ash from April’s eruption of the La Soufriere volcano.
Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw moved a supplemental appropriation in the House of Assembly on Tuesday evening.
She said the funds would be divided between six ministries – $281,000 goes towards the Ministry of Tourism; $520,000 to the Ministry of the Environment; $180,000 to the Ministry of Education; $860,000 to the Ministry of Youth Affairs; $222,000 to the Ministry of Housing, and $400,000 to the Ministry of Health.
She said: “The volcano dumped between one and three centimetres of ash all across Barbados, which resulted in the disruption of all the school plants, both on the exterior and interior of the buildings. However, this sum is a “drop in the bucket”.
Bradshaw commended the national clean-up effort, saying: “This was totally unexpected, and we made provisions through the various ministries to do clean ups in communities across the island.
“We are also grateful to the private sector interests who came forward and helped with the process, because were it not for them, we would not have got the airport and the Bridgetown Port back up in the time we did without their assistance.”
Minister of Transport Ian Gooding-Edghill said part of his ministry’s $39 million budget would cover the payment of workers in the Drainage Division, who were also called in to assist with the clean up after the volcanic eruption.
He said: “This payment will cover the workers involved in the clean-up campaign for the period August 1 to December 31 this year, and I must commend these workers because their efforts contributed in no small measure to flood mitigation. The payment will also include their National Insurance contributions.”
Gooding-Edghill then revealed that a group of Transport Board workers who were not included in a pension payment scheme under the previous Democratic Labour Party administration will now receive their compensation.
“Under the previous Government, promises were made to pay these workers, but after the current administration came to office in May 2018, we met with the workers at Solidarity House and discussed this matter, and following our initial discussion, the Transport Board also met with the Barbados Workers Union, and coming out of these discussions, we are now seeking the approval of some $3 million to be paid to the workers, effective from May 24, 2018,” the transport minister told the House.
Some 43 workers will benefit from this payout, which previously was limited only to senior members of staff, he added.
Gooding-Edghill said: “This will remove some of the inequity we saw in the former arrangement. Under the Casual Workers Act, these workers could not receive a gratuity payment unless it received the minister’s approval, but in 2015 the then minister had only agreed to certain workers being allowed to get the gratuity.
“However, we decided to honour the workers overall, not just a select class of workers, and this is a significant change. The union has also asked for them to receive the payment in cash and not bonds.” (DH)