“DISMISSED NCC WORKERS URGED TO REQUEST PENSION & GRATUITY” – EDMUND G. HINKSON Saint James North Member of Parliament, Former NCC Chairman & Attorney-at-Law
The approximately 200 National Conservation Commission workers who were clearly wrongfully and unfairly dismissed at the end of April this year should remove their cases from before the Employment Rights Tribunal and agitate for their full pension rights, gratuity and other compensation.
The six months period during which these dismissed workers would have received unemployment benefits has now expired. They are therefore no longer receiving any money from Government.
Furthermore, it is now questionable whether the Government even has the finances to pay those former employees who are due income tax refunds from the tax year 2013.
On 25th May the two trade unions representing these retrenched workers agreed to a proposal to place the matter of their dismissal before the Employment Rights Tribunal.
They opted for this legal process, rather than to continue to pursue a political solution, even although the Minister responsible for the NCC, Dr. Denis Lowe, had earlier admitted publicly that he had before him for scrutiny a list of persons to be sent home and the Prime Minister had publicly conceded that the process leading to the dismissals was flawed.
The former workers were told that the Tribunal would have a decision on their status by the following Friday. That Friday has not come for these dismissed employees after almost six months. It appears that the Tribunal has up to now not been granted any staff or resources to facilitate the hearings or indeed been allocated any place to hold its sittings.
It is time that these citizens, many of whom were the sole breadwinners in their respective households, have children to send to school, clothe and feed, utility bills, rent or mortgages to pay and taxes to render to the Government, stop being given the run around by an incompetent Government, aided in my opinion by trade unions which have somehow lost their militant way.
I urge these retrenched workers, some of whom are my constituents, to accept the fact that they are not going to be reinstated by this Government into their previous jobs. They need to take their matters out of the Tribunal’s hands since they will not receive five cents until the long drawn out process of tribunal hearings and possible appeals to the High Court is completed.
Finally, they ought to insist on their legal right to be immediately paid their full pension, gratuity and any other compensation to which they are entitled so that they can move on from what has clearly become a charade at their expense.