National Insurance Board (NIB) workers are vex and intend to share their pain with the public.
That’s the word of chairman of the NIB section under the Public Service Association (PSA) Kellon Wallace as the workers and Finance Minister Colm Imbert continue to butt heads over a collective agreement signed in 2020.
During a protest on Monday at the NIB headquarters in Port of Spain, Wallace said they will make the public feel their pain until the Finance Minister honours their 2020 wage settlement for a nine per cent salary increase.
However, Imbert said in parliament last week that the agreement was signed without approval from the Human Resource Advisory Committee of Cabinet as mandated by a 2011 directive from the Finance Ministry. As a result, his ministry is seeking advice on the agreement.
Wallace said “The Finance Minister would have made a statement last Tuesday in the Parliament claiming that the collective agreement that the PSA and the NIBTT would have signed, that something is wrong with it. But we as the PSA within the NIB have negotiated our increases on a timely basis between both parties all the time, this is the first we have had this type of interference in our negotiations.”
“As far back as we have checked, the NIB has been allocating funds for this agreement over the years, since 2016 because we would have settled the 2011-2013 period in 2016 and from thereafter they have been putting aside funds for this period. Our calculations stated at the end of December 2020 the arrears to workers in somewhere in the region of let us $65 to $85 Million.”
Wallace said they now have to share their pain with the public.
He noted “The 15th within the month is an important day for them at NIB, it is the last day to pay your national insurance contributions, also tomorrow is the day we pay pensioners, the following week we pull down to pay pensioners again so we are in the system and know it and we have to do what is necessary to let the Government know that the workers of the National Insurance Board, want their money and they want it now.”
The PSA has filed an industrial relations offence against the NIB over its failure to honour the terms of the agreement and that matter comes up for hearing today (March 16) in the Industrial Relations Court at 2 pm.
He said pensioners will get their cheques, as usual, this month but he could not say what would happen in the coming months.
“The pensioners will be paid this month but the process has to start somewhere- and we have started it today but there will be other instances throughout the month and continuing until this is paid.”