Prime Minister and Minister of People Employment the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris has announced that under his Team Unity Administration nearly 5,000 Skills Empowerment Training Programme (STEP) and government auxiliary workers will have their status changed by the 1st of July, and the 1st of September respectively.
“Tonight I want to announce that the 3,000 STEP (Skills Training Empowerment Programme) workers will become part of the permanent work force of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis come the 1st of July 2020,” said Prime Minister Harris on Monday evening June 1 at a ceremony where Team Unity’s 2020 manifesto was virtually launched.
Dr. Harris recounted that the People Employment Programme (PEP) was established by the previous administration as a short-term six months programme in 2012 but went beyond the prescribed time. Team Unity Administration upgraded its scope and in February 2017 renamed it the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP).
He noted that while many have been on the programme since 2012, working in a variety of ministries and departments and in a variety of private-sector institutions, those workers did not have any particular status.
“Seven years, no status, seven years you cannot go to the bank and get a loan, seven years you cannot apply for a US visa because they say you have no status,” commented the Prime Minister. “Well, Team Unity cares and Team Unity shall regularise over 3,000 workers.”
On the issue of the government auxiliary workers, formerly known as non-establishment workers, Prime Minister Harris said Team Unity Government met the situation where they worked in the various government departments and had limited status. The former administration had also stopped the honorarium – the two per cent holiday pay – they used to receive in December and were without a pension.
“We have good news,” the Prime Minister said: “We set up a committee to look at it and they have advised us that the 1st of September 2020 will be the date in which we will bring all, everyone, of the non-establishment workers on to the pensionable establishment.”
Dr Harris added: “Only we can do what is right. Only we are focusing on the people and improving their conditions of life. So tomorrow you at Public Works you could march in with a little bit more pep, a little bit more step because Dr Harris has committed from the 1st of September you are part of the civil service. You are part of the government establishment.”
Earlier on the Prime Minister had advised that Team Unity Government will in its second term, as it did in the first term, create more jobs for all the people of St. Kitts and Nevis, targeting at creating over 2,000 more jobs for the people of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Team Unity, he said, has the record for job creation in St. Kitts and Nevis, as the Social Security records reflect that the largest number of jobs, the largest number of contributors to the scheme, and the largest number of self-employed persons engaged productively happened under Team Unity Government.