All is not well with the National Insurance Scheme’s transition into the National Insurance and Social Security Service (NISSS), the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) has charged.
DLP vice president Walter Maloney claimed that contrary to what was reported to lawmakers last month when the changeover was passed into law, several NIS workers were coerced into supporting the scheme’s transition into a commercial state-owned enterprise.
Maloney did not substantiate the claim, and Minister of Social Security Colin Jordan described the allegations as “rubbish”.
The DLP politician told reporters at a press conference on Thursday: “They say to you that almost 95 per cent of the workers agree but what they didn’t tell you is that 95 per cent of those persons were threatened. If you do not sign on you do not have a job. So people wanted employment so they signed on . . . . It was done under subterfuge, that is the harsh reality that we in this country are being faced with. So when we hear the talk about ‘we are going to look after you and we are looking after the workers in this country’ no, [they] are not.”
Two weeks ago in the Lower House, Jordan said that almost all of the 267 NIS employees agreed to transition and the 20 workers who opted not to move to the new entity entered into discussions with the Ministry of the Public Service on placement elsewhere.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, Jordan said no workers were bullied or forced into supporting the move.
“If I can sum up the [allegations] in one word, it is rubbish,” he said.
Last Friday after a meeting with staff, Jordan announced in a press briefing that the transition had taken effect.
“I get the impression that there is a degree of satisfaction and the folks feel that we can move forward and do a good job to improve the service that we offer to Barbadians,” he said then, pointing out that he had other subsequent meetings this week and “got no indication at all that people felt bullied or forced. So in other words, I don’t get the impression that there are people there who have no choice”.
Jordan urged social commentators not to politicise everything and implored them to be mature and objective in their commentary.
The labour minister said: “Don’t mislead on things to grab a headline . . . . National insurance is not one of those things you should do so with. And I call on all the commentators to be mature in their approach to national development and focus on facts; don’t put fiction out there just to score political points. It is an immature approach and I call on those who propagate that kind of stuff to stop it.” (SZB)