The frustratingly long wait for payment should soon be at an end for some contractors attached to the 2020 Population and Housing Census.
The assurance has come from Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle following reports that workers who were contracted to be paid bi-weekly had not received a cent since starting work at the beginning of August.
The census, which is being conducted by the Barbados Statistical Services, was originally slated to be held last year but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It will run from August 1 until September 30.
However, a distraught worker who requested anonymity for fear of being victimized reached out to Barbados TODAY to air her grievances.
She explained that the people chosen to conduct the census were unemployed.
She said that made it especially more difficult for them to travel to their assigned areas and buy personal protective equipment (PPE) if they were not paid.
The frustrated mother of three said while she understood there might have been some delays in payment, over a month had passed and there had been no official communication on the matter.
Under the terms of the contract, enumerators are to be paid $6 per adult questionnaire, $4 per child questionnaire, $3 per occupied dwelling unit, $1 per unoccupied dwelling unit and $.50 per visitation record line.
They are also to be paid a training subvention of $595 for a maximum of five days and a fixed travelling allowance per enumeration district of $595.
She said while the majority of people had received the travelling allowance, some of them were still awaiting payment for the training they underwent in July.
“It all depends on whatever work I do to get paid for the two weeks but at the end of the day we signed a contract that said payment is supposed to be made every two weeks. No kind of payment has been made and the census actually started from August 1 and this is September 13 and no kind of money except for training money has been paid,” the frustrated mother said.
“We are basically being held at gunpoint because we are working for Government. What are we supposed to continue to do? Work without pay and go along with the notion that Government money is sure money? We are unemployed so how are we supposed to get money to get to our assigned districts, buy lunch and buy PPE if we are not being paid?
“They gave us some PPE when we began work but those have since run out and we need money to purchase new equipment. With this Delta outbreak we have to ensure that we are safe and follow the necessary protocols so we need to have certain things like masks, gloves and alcohol,” she further added.
She said conducting the census was also hard work as it meant they had to work in the scorching heat most days.
When contacted, Minister Caddle told Barbados TODAY she was aware of the situation and it was being rectified as a matter of urgency.
“I am aware of the situation and have said to the responsible officers that it is unacceptable that people who do such an important job in an environment like this should have to wait to be paid. Especially when the rest of us are being paid regularly and don’t have to wonder where our next cheque is coming from.
“There were some accounting issues, but to go into those would be just to give an excuse, when there can be none. Some people who were affected were since paid. For the others, we will make sure this matter is addressed right away,” Caddle said. ([email protected])