Union bound for court
Some workers with as many as 17 years’ service at the National Housing Corporation have been given their walking tickets.
And general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Dennis Clarke, has vowed to take their cases up to the region’s highest court, the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Clarke issued this threat today after some of the terminated workers made their way to the headquarters of the union on Dalkeith Road,
St Michael to make their concerns known to top union officials.
Expressing surprise at the terminations of such long-standing employees, Clarke said: “What concerns us at the NUPW is the fact that those workers are in a pensionable age range because they were employed for more than ten years. There is a question at the layoffs near retirement age.
“Generally, you do not terminate workers who are pensionable like that. This is something that we warned management about, having persons who by virtue of the fact that they have been working for ten years or more and are therefore pensionable being terminated.
“I do not know how many workers received termination letters today, but seeing that you have people who have been working for 17 years being terminated it means that management is looking at just over 300 temporary workers to be terminated,”
Explaining why so many workers with ten years service and over are still being temporary members of staff, the veteran trade unionist said: “The problem is that about eight years ago the union was trying to get the positions of the temporary workers at the NHC established, but apparently there seemed to be a ‘toing and froing’.
“First of all the Ministry of Housing took an inordinate length of time before it sent their recommendations to the Ministry of the Civil Service for approval, and then the Ministry of the Civil Service was trying to verify whether or not the NHC needed those posts. Up to now while we have agreed on a couple of posts, some are still outstanding. Unfortunately, those persons with ten years plus service found themselves in temporary positions.
“However, the Pension Act also states that if you are pensionable and served ten years, then you are eligible for pension and gratuity. It means therefore that at this time the NHC should have had their pensions and gratuity prepared for them. I suspect that in some cases, workers will not receive their pensions and gratuities until they reach pensionable age,” Clarke added.
Noting that no worker has received a package on termination, Clarke suggested that the union would have to find a worker who was willing to go to court and challenge the situation.
“We will have to meet with the workers, especially those who have in five years’ service and over and seek advice from our legal
advisers to determine where we go from there,” Clarke explained.
Clarke, who is expected to step down from office at the end of October threatened to take the case up to the region’s highest court, the Caribbean Court of Justice.