By Alexis R. Milan
Social Security Board (SSB) employees, this week, expressed their dissatisfaction with SSB management, by organizing a series of countrywide protests outside their respective branches during the lunch hour break.
They demanded that a problem regarding uniforms be resolved among other things
According to Christian Workers Union (CWU) President Audrey Matura-Shepherd, the employees are supposed to get new uniforms every 18 months and were to receive their new uniforms 10 months ago in December, 2014. But that has not happened. She explained that according to the agreement in place, the company is to provide a clothing allowance in lieu of the uniforms not being ready.
Shepherd added that the employees are entitled to $450 compensation each, if the uniforms are not provided within a year. SSB management, however, holds a different position.
Frustrated with that position, BYL employees have started agitating for the issue to be settled as well as other issues regarding their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the company.
SSB Chairman Doug Singh told the media that as far as he knows, there is only a handful of employees who have not recived their new uniforms.
Singh added that the Board’s interpretation of the agreement is that there is no obligation to compensate the employees, but they have argued that in the past a precedent has been set. After a series of correspondences, the Board agreed to consider making a monetary compensation if the employees would agree to lengthen the uniform timetable from 18 months to 24 months, but they rejected this proposal, Singh said.
He added that the uniforms procured for the employees from Trinidad this year cost a $277,000 for 233, in excess of $1,000 for each employee. He said saying the SSB workers are burdening the fund and need to prioritize.
The negotiation of the CBA has been stalled for some months because, according to Singh, the Board just received the union’s proposals two months ago, but both sides have agreed on a timetable and have agreed to settle non-financial matters before they negotiate salaries.