Record-keeping in the heyday of the bauxite industry was very efficient

Dear Editor,

The constant criticisms of, and reprimands for sloppy, tardy and inefficient service from the NIS, instead of being a whip to buck them up in delivering better service have only served, it seems, to toughen their hide, making them more immune to the regular bashing. The NIS from all appearances with truckloads of complaints piling up against them are not the least perturbed and have resigned themselves to remain functioning just the way they are – no sweat. One has to be stripped of one’s senses not to be overwhelmed by the constant public wailing and charges, or not to be weary of the trite and hollow excuses repeatedly offered. One is left to conclude that the NIS cannot do any better, for no institution worth its salt would relish such relentless castigation, and I doubt if there is any respectable institution that would be so brazen as to be contemptuous of the very people whose monies are responsible for its existence and well-paid staff – perish such thought.

Editor, things fall apart, and when they are not functioning it tends to make us look back at the time when they were in top shape. The present unsatisfactory service being experienced by the contributors of NIS made me reflect on the superb, almost impeccable record-keeping system that was a hallmark of the once mighty bauxite industry –Demba-Guymine.  But that is a long time gone; touch-button technology and the computer era have allowed us much advancement in terms of enormous time-saving. No more do we have to be tediously sifting through endless stacks of papers.

The record-keeping in the bauxite industry was pure class; as was expected, errors were made, but very rarely and often times negligible. But looking back now, the people who took charge of that department were exemplary professional workers – a cut above the average. From the moment you got employed until your departure, everything, bar none, of what came within your line of duty was recorded. When your three months’ probation was up, you were summoned forthwith on the very date to be appraised; when you were due for an increase in wages/salary, it was made on the exact date and reflected on  your pay statement; if you purchased an item from the store deductions were made after x amount of time or according to how you requested payments be made; when your vacation was due you were informed and your pay package was made up as per agreement on time – there was hardly any running around to query/correct mistakes. Whether it was a loan being paid for housing, a contribution pledged to be deducted etc, they were all done promptly and with precision. If you were selected for an award by virtue of years worked or merit, you were formally informed. And when finally your time was up – be it retrenchment, retirement, resignation, accident, death, etc – rest assured that whatever was due, every article of entitlement, every single benefit would be meticulously compiled from the records to accurately reflect your period spent and actions within the industry; all documents would be well sealed and sent to your official address.

No running around, no back and forth, no frustration and stress with banks refusing to endorse your documents and endless hours sitting/standing, waiting in futility at various offices. Talk about system! That was a system; record-keeping at its very best, which we all took for granted and never quite recognized the people who made it possible.

Yours faithfully,
Frank Fyffe

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