Workers, Union concerned about ongoing late payments in the public service

Delays in the payment of wages of temporary staff for as many as three to four months in some cases continue to plague this category of workers in the public sector. 

General secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Denis Clarke, voiced this concern today following reports that some workers at the Ministry of Transport and Works (MTW) had not received wages since December 2013.

NUPW General Secretary Denis Clarke
NUPW General Secretary Denis Clarke

Clarke said: “Right across the Public Service, temporary workers experience this problem of late payment of wages and salaries. It is a Public Service problem and therefore not peculiar to MTW. The process is the problem. Requests for payment have to go to the Personnel Administration Department and then to the Ministry of the Civil Service. We at the NUPW are trying to address the problem.”

Barbados TODAY understands that at least one worker –– an artisan –– at one of the MTW depots has not been paid since December 31 last year. However, when contacted principal personnel officer at MTW, Bindley Skeete, said he was not aware of that particular case.

“If that is the case, he is free to call me and have the situation investigated. We have had some hiccups in the past but recently there have not been many cases. In the past we have had many cases . . . . The late payment of temporary workers is said to be due to a delay in authorization from the Personnel Administration Department, but when contacted for a clarification today, Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins said: “I have no comment at this time.”

Meanwhile, a member of the teaching staff at the Barbados Community College (BCC) has complained that over the past six months they have been receiving their salaries way beyond the official paydays.

He charged that the delay in the payment arose because staff in the payroll department had forwarded the cheques to the college’s bankers too late.

The irate teacher said: “For example, the official payday for Government workers last month was April 24. Payroll staff should have sent the cheques before April 24, so that they could be processed in time to meet the official payday.”

Only last week, the payment was met.

The tutor pointed out that another problem had arisen recently when the college’s bankers changed the length of time a cheque had to be lodged in the bank before it could be cashed.

“If the employee’s banker is the same as the college’s, he can access his money the same day. However, if the employee’s banker is another bank he/she has to wait eight working days before the employee can have access to his salary. Originally, it was three working days; now financial institutions are stipulating that a cheque has to be deposited for eight working days. This new regulation created a major headache for workers over the long Easter holidays,” the tutor said.

When contacted, the BCC’s finance officer Judith Newsam declined comment on the matter while referring us to the principal Gladstone Best, who was not in his office at the time.

Another Goverment worker employed at the Ministry of Labour also told Barbados TODAY that her credit union had also increased the number of days from three to eight working days a cheque had to be deposited before it could be cashed.

Expressing disgust at the new arrangement, the worker said: “I have been a member of my credit union for a number of years, yet I have been told that I have to deposit the cheque for eight days. Credit union officials told me that they were exercising more care because in recent times the credit union had been receiving several fraudulent Government cheques.

“This is a major inconvenience, since I have deadlines on my monthly financial commitments. If I do not meet these deadlines, penalties are imposed.”

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