Photo: Prime Minister Harris (right) and Calvin Edwards (left)
PM Harris promises government auxiliary employees not forgotten
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris says government is still set to improve the conditions of some 1,200-plus government auxiliary employees (GAE), once called non-established workers.
During his Oct. 3 press conference, Harris said payment to then non-established workers ceased for a good number of year, the issue has been outstanding for too long and it is important to ensure that it is corrected.
“The Team Unity administration has determined that in the interest of justice to the workers we will resolve this issue,” he said. “So, we have the committee now that is dealing with it. We will await their recommendations. They will come to the cabinet and then we will make a determination what the state would be able to do.”
Harris, speaking directly to the workers, urged them to remain patient as the government remains committed to ensuring that their payments are reinstated.
“It’s a work in progress and we want to say the non-established workers (as they are more popularly called) that this Team Unity government has not forgotten them, and we feel their pain that they had been robbed of this 2 percent that they would have had each year… and we will correct this injustice to the extent, the resources of the country allow us to do so going forward,” said Harris.
Deputy Financial Secretary Calvin Edwards, a member on the committee that was established to deal with GAE, said that an act to implement the scheme was passed years ago, but was never activated. He added that data showed that the payments to GAE stopped, but all efforts are being made to restore them.
“They used to get a payment call honorarium, which was about 2 percent per year, and that was stopped because that amount would be contributed to the person’s pension scheme and we have being going back in time trying to get an assessment as to how much is owed, trying to make a determination on how best to deal with that,” said the deputy financial secretary. “So the information gathering exercise has been taking a long time because quite a number of people are involved. We have just finished compiling some figures and they will be discussed in a meeting on [Oct. 4].”
The committee comprises Chief Personnel Officer Torfrida Rochester; Labour Commissioner (Ag) Shernel James; Budget Director Calvin Edwards; Representative of the Legal Department Glenroy Woodley; and representatives of the non-established workers and Accountant General Department.