Change of heart
Transport board workers finally accept partial severance
Hours after loudly protesting that they would not accept a cent less than what was owed to them, a group of retrenched Transport Board workers had a change of heart and accepted part payment of their severance today, with the remainder expected in two weeks.
They took the advice of their former bargaining agent, the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), and accepted the money with a promise they would receive the rest by September 10.
In a brief interview with Barbados TODAY this evening, the Transport Board’s general manager Sandra Forde confirmed that most of the workers had returned to the Weymouth, Roebuck Street, St Michael headquarters later in the day for their first cheques.
Before backing down, however, the retrenched workers were adamant that part payment would not satisfy them.
When they realised that, just as they had been told on August 18 when they protested, they would only get some of the funds they were vocal about their dissatisfaction.
“As hungry as I am, I am not taking a part of my money today” and “this is gross disrespect for the ordinary workers at the Board” were among the comments made by the angry retrenched employees.
Omar Anthony, who had worked as a driver before being promoted to a supervisory position, insisted he wanted all of his $96 294.
Reacting angrily to the decision taken by management to pay only part of his severance, Anthony said: “I opted for voluntary separation. My last day at work was February 28 this year. I received a call yesterday inviting me to report to headquarters for my severance pay and they gave me $24 000. What can I do with that money? I thought I would have received at least $50 000 so that I could cover some of my expenses. I have a light bill to pay and other utility bills and a wife and seven children to support. I have a sister in St Lucia who was in a diabetic coma and I wanted to visit her. I owe the credit union $48 000 but now all of my plans have been disrupted.”
An irate former general worker, who said she did not even go to the office to see what she would be offered, also said her bills were piling up.
“Everyday the bank is calling me, the credit union is calling me also. The money they are paying out cannot even pay two bills. I did not go to see how much they were going to pay me because everybody that came out of the Human Resources Department told me they were not taking the part payment. I am supposed to receive over $7 000, but everybody in my category of workers said they were offered $1 000. That is not fair,” she said.
Another female worker who was employed at the board for 15 years took a swipe at the BWU, claiming the union had “sold us out”.
“They did not stand up for us in the beginning and they cannot stand up for us now,” she said.
Mark Watson, who had been employed by the statutory board for 37 years, was the only one who accepted the partial payment this morning.
Explaining why he took a cheque for $23 000 when a total $94 000 was due to him, Watson said: “All of my savings have been used up paying my utility bills and other financial commitments.”