Region Four Chairman Genevieve Allen has launched a probe of why 13 employees of the Little Diamond-Herstelling Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) were not paid their fortnightly salaries over the Easter weekend even as the Chairman of the body says that the vouchers had not been ready.
According to a release yesterday from Region Four, the investigation was ordered after Vice Chairman of the RDC, Earl Lambert and Assistant Regional Executive Officer (AREO) Ramnarine Singh disclosed during the monthly Regional Communities Com-mittee meeting that the employees had not been paid.
The release said it was stated that the Chairman of the NDC, Madan Singh refused to sign the vouchers to effect payment, thus resulting in the 13 employees being forced to spend their Easter holidays without being paid. “This is unacceptable and I am launching an immediate investigation as this nonsense cannot and will not continue,” Allen said.
According to the release, AREO Singh said that the problem arose after the chairman’s unilateral decision to impose a 150% increase in his monthly stipend. “He (Chairman) has been receiving $10,000.00 each month, however, he imposed an additional $15,000.00 increase to his salary, thus making it $25,000.00 and because the overseer has refused, he, in turn, refused to sign off on the salaries for the workers,” the AREO alleged.
Overseer, Candace Atherly who the release said was unable to attend the meeting due to illness said that she has been having this fight with the Chairman for a while now.
“We told him that the vouchers were to pay the salaries but yet he told us that if he aint getting his $25,000.00 then nobody aint getting paid because he aint signing nothing,” she related.
The Region Four release said that when contacted, the NDC Chairman, Madan Singh said that he had not refused to sign the vouchers in protest at not getting his $25,000 but noted that all the vouchers were not ready so instead of signing some last week and some this week, he opted to wait until this week when he would sign all.
The release said that he dismissed what he described as “misguided statements” of the overseer who he said is following the directives of some councillors. However, the release said that when told that the accusations and comments being made by Atherly have been made on numerous occasions publicly at meetings and in front of him, Chairman Singh said that he will not be bothered by what she has to say adding, “this is no big deal as the workers will be paid”.
Allen said in the release that it is not the first time that the NDC has encountered such problems. “These persons have worked and by law, they are to be paid, paid not when the Chairman feels ready and happy to, but paid within the stipulated time frame of when salaries are due,” she said.
“We cannot allow our RDC’s and NDC’s to be made political tools and I will not sit by and watch politics ruining the livelihood of our hard-working employees. Mr. Madan Singh has taken matters into his own hands in refusing to sign the vouchers and the other NDC’s that were present were informed about the circumstances surrounding his refusal and I have launched an investigation after which we as a region will certainly have to take the appropriate action. Politics and politicking should be left for election time and has no place in professional organisations and environment,” the visibly upset Regional Chairman said, according to the release.
Allen said that the callous and uncaring approach by elected officials cannot continue adding that appropriate action would be taken when the investigation has been completed. Up to the time of the sending out of the release yesterday, the staff had not been paid and based on the accounting process it’s unlikely that they would be paid before tomorrow.