NDC expresses concerns over plight of workers

Are we compromising safety and security at our airport for political expedience?

NDC letter to auxiliary staffThat’s the question thrown out to members of the local media by Chairman of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Vincent Roberts at a press conference called to express the party’s concerns on a number of issues in the country.

Roberts identified one of the issues as the sudden termination of the employment of Director of Technical Operations, at the Grenada Airports Authority (GAA), Sydney Charles with effect from March 4.

He told reporters he did not know how long Charles had been employed at the authority but based on reliable information received his contract “was prematurely terminated.”

He said that one of the stakeholders at GAA wrote to the management placing on record its displeasure with Charles’ termination.

“We understand that Mr. Sydney Charles pissed of someone in high office and had his employment terminated even though his contract has not yet expired…is this true? May we rest assured that the operations at MBIA will not be compromised? Is this a decision of your board and its Chairman or is this the dictate of a politician”, Roberts quoted the stakeholder as saying in the letter.

With May Day celebrations taking place on Sunday, the NDC voiced its concerns over the way government workers are being treated in the country by the administration of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.

Roberts said “the situation in Grenada is so dynamic and it appears from all developments that the government seems to be at a loss with how to really function and managers and workers in state enterprises are beginning to wonder who is really running the show, if it’s the politicians or their substantive managers.”

The senior NDC executive member also touched on the plight of workers at the state-controlled Grenada Postal Corporation (GPC).

“We still do not know if it (the GPC) has been sold or who has purchased it. We understand that every week workers are complaining and some have left the job,” he said.

He charged that workers at the Postal Corporation are no longer represented by a Union” and described the situation as a “worrying trend” in the country.

Another issue brought to the fore by Congress at the press conference was the outsourcing of the auxiliary staff at the nation’s schools.

President of the NDC Women’s Arm, Jenny Rapier indicated that the workers were handed a form “without no government heading or stamp entitled outsourcing of auxiliary staff” giving them alternative options on the way forward as it relates to their employment.

According to Rapier, the form dated Friday, April 8, 2016, was presented to the auxiliary staff during a meeting at the Grenada Boys Secondary School (GBSS) on the same date.

“The first option, “contract for service” caters for the provision of a service for which these workers would be paid (without) an employer/employee relationship”, she said.

Rapier pointed out that the form “essentially means that (they will be) self-employed…and they would have to sign a six (6)-month contract.”

She said that “another requirement (under the option) is the payment of the nine (9) per cent NIS deduction (of the) employee and employer contribution (and the) replacement (or) substitute employee in case when you are unable to report for duty.

“In other words these persons; and the person I encountered with, she is getting a salary of $700 and if she choose this option to pay her own NIS…if she is sick and can’t make it to work, whoever is substituting for her, she is being asked to pay that person,” Rapier explained.

The second option is “cooperatives, employee owned and managed company.”

Rapier said this means that the government is asking the auxiliary staff to “create their own company and I guess submit to the ministry to see if they would make it as a company to cook and to clean…it (the form) says the Department of Cooperatives is willing to provide assistance to help them form their cooperatives.”

According to Rapier another option uses the word “none,” and next to that it says non-acceptance of future employment.

“In other words, if (you) the workers don’t accept any of the options then that’s it with you. You are no longer employed and so this is of great concern,” she said.

“It is so troubling…I don’t understand this…I don’t understand what they are trying to tell these people here,” she added.

Rapier told reporters that one of the individuals she spoke to broke down in tears and that “two persons that came to me with this (form), one has been in the system for 28 years and the other for 18 years”.

“These are persons who work hard daily to secure their families with measly income…there are workers in that system who get even less than $700 and $700 is supposed to be the lowest income”, she said.

Roberts also said the NDC understands that similar concerns are being expressed by workers at the Ministry of Health and the Grenada Tourism Authority.

He charged that “the general perception is that there is a lot of political interference” at these work places.

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