The Ministry of Social Protection has from the period May to December 10, 2015 been able to recover $59M of wages owed to workers.
This is according to information shared with the media by Minister within the Ministry, Simona Broomes. Speaking at a press conference held at her Brickdam office, Broomes, who has responsibility for labour issues, explained that though her short time in office has been both “challenging and exciting” along with her staff she has been able to secure “modest results.”
“My own proudest and most satisfying moments have been on those occasions when we have won great victories for ordinary (people),” Broomes said.
Those victories she noted include the $79M in owed wages that have been recovered for the year. $20m from January to May and $59M from May to December 10.
According to Broomes, this number which is more than two and half times the $31M which was recovered in 2014 is expected by the end of the year to be augmented by further recoveries to a sum well over $80M.
She shared the story of a single mother who visited her office seeking redress. According to Broomes the mother of three had camped out at her office since 6:30. The woman who is a guard was forced to work three consecutive shifts leaving her children including an 18-month-old at home alone.
“When she left the night before there was nothing in the house to eat, and since the area in which she lived has no potable water, they were left home alone starving and thirsty. The eldest, an 8-year-old was forced to ask the neighbour for water to give the baby until mommy came home,” Broomes shared. She added that with tears in her eyes the woman explained that after working under those conditions for four years she was dismissed after she complained.
“I dealt with the matter only to find that she had been wrongfully dismissed. We were able to have her reinstated and paid compensation,” Broomes said.
Other achievements include the closing of “750 complaints between May to November while 372 were closed for the previous months”, in that same period 820 inspections were conducted while no inspections were conducted in preceding months while 12 training sessions were conducted from May to November compared to seven done between January to May.
Labour Department consultant, Francis Carryl who has been with the minister for a year and a half, shared Broomes enthusiasm. He noted that the department is in the middle of a revival. “What has happened in the past months would not have happened in years gone by,” Carryl said, adding that “there is nothing more rewarding to see a disenfranchised worker leaving with a smile; labour is once again on the move.”
He reminded of the case of Stephen Daniels a GuySuCo worker who was reinstated last Friday, one year after he was dismissed from the sugar corporation following a confrontation with Skeldon Estate Manager Dave Kumar.
Carryl noted that the ministry had been fighting that matter on every front of the industrial relations landscape including through the courts but it wasn’t until Minister Broomes became personally involved that a settlement was reached.
He said that the matter has now been well settled with Daniel being reemployed and the computation of his outstanding wages is well underway. This package is expected to take recovered salaries way beyond the mentioned $80M.
Broomes stressed that the struggle for workers’ rights is a fight that is consistent with the policies of the Granger administration. “Our aim,” she said is “to reverse some of the wrongs and injustices that had been entrenched for many years.”
“There is more work to be done, there are more wrongs to be righted there is still many a mile left for us to walk together to get this administration to where it wants to be,” Broomes said.