PM: Mistake in Port Police severance pay calculations
August 2, 2013

PM: Mistake in Port Police severance pay calculations

There was an error in the initial calculations regarding the severance package to be paid to Port Police who were recently laid off.{{more}}

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said at a press conference on Monday that he never saw the original letter that was sent to the port workers, but that he saw the report that there were some discrepancies in the calculations in the local press.

Gonsalves said he thought to himself “that had to be wrong,”. He added that when he contacted the Port Authority, he was assured by those responsible that the error had been corrected.

Back in May, legislators approved the Protection of Employment (Amendment) Bill 2012, which required employers to pay severance pay beginning from the date the affected employee took up employment.

However, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has raised the issue a number of times, including last Friday at the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) march and rally held in Kingstown.

Eustace contended that he had seen the letter and that the port police were being robbed of what was duly owed to them.

According to Eustace, the port police, whose last day on the job was July 31, were to be paid after the first two years of their employment.

“I saw the letter,” Eustace said. He added that the affected employees did not receive their increments, which meant that their severance would also be affected by this.

The Leader of the Opposition further said that the Port Authority also failed to pay the port police’s back pay.

“In three ways they are being robbed and we can’t just sit and let these things pass,” Eustace said.

Gonsalves, during a session of Parliament, announced that there would be some restructuring at the port and that this restructuring included the severing of 84 persons employed as port police.

He explained that during a recent trip abroad, he was informed that the port police had taken industrial action and a decision had been taken to send in members of the local constabulary as replacements.

Gonsalves explained that when industrial action is taken at an entity such as the port, it is left unsecured and this has the potential for the country to be blacklisted by the international authorities.

“I will not allow that to happen,” he said.

He explained that lack of adequate security could also have an adverse effect on cargo being landed here, as insurance for ships could increase, resulting in an increase in the price of goods being imported into the country. (DD)