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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, May 16, IWN – Workers at the Irrigation Authority should not have been a position where they had to complain to the media about not being paid since October, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves says.

The workers took to the media last month complaining about disconnected utility services, inability to send their children to school and repossessed hire purchased items as the Authority has failed to pay them since October.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Finance, told a press conference on Tuesday that is not true that the workers were not paid since October.

He, however, added that the non-payment of the workers for “two or three months has nothing to do with absence of resources”.

“It has simply to do with inefficiencies and inadvertencies by persons who are responsible to ensure that you do not have such inefficiencies and inadvertencies,” he said.

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Gonsalves noted that the Authority has someone in charge. He further added that public servants are responsible to ensure that state entities get the subventions needed to pay their staff.

This, he said, is especially important for an entity like the Irrigation Authority that is not a money-making enterprise.

Gonsalves said that while the workers told the media that they turned up to work everyday, “they didn’t say that they turned up to work and worked everyday.”

Since Hurricane Tomas in late 2010 and the April Floods of 2011, the irrigation system has been destroyed or damaged severely, Gonsalves said.

“If somebody is working with you and you haven’t terminated them, and they turn up to work, you have to pay them,” he said.

“But, if you do not have a reasonable expectation that you are not going to fix the irrigation system within a short period of time, the sensible thing to do is to sever them. Pay them their severance pay and help to find work for them elsewhere.”

He further said that he was told at a Cabinet committee meeting that the Authority was in the process of resolving the situation.

“So, there is a continuation of turning up to work, for which payment must be made,” Gonsalves said.

“If some work is still to be done in irrigation, it is for the Authority to say which workers can be brought into the Ministry of Agriculture to do some continuing work and which workers are not needed, and let us try to find alternative employment for those. It is not a large number of workers … But this should not have happened,” he said.

“I haven’t seen any newspaper ask this question, but it is an important question to ask: those who are in charge, did they get pay? I want you to ask that question, because I haven’t heard them complain that they haven’t got pay,” the Prime Minister further said.

4 replies on “Non-payment of irrigation workers shouldn’t have happened — PM”

  1. Here we go again Gonsalves twisting the words of these poor abused people. These estate slaves, who Gonsalves thinks are unable to express themselves, so he twists the story to make it all their fault.

    It is very obvious by what Gonsalves says that he would of severed their employment, dumped them, heaped them on the rubbish tip.

    These people have lost everything because of this government, had all their furniture and electronics repossessed by Courts, Singer and all the Kingstown traders. Unable to send their children to school, unable to feed their children, and unable to feed themselves. Yet they turned up at work, unpaid and uncared for. These people are real hero’s, they have gone to the end of the earth to support the ULP and their jobs, only to be told they should of been got rid of a long time ago.

    “Gonsalves further said that he was told at a Cabinet committee meeting that the Authority was in the process of resolving the situation”. Cabinet meeting bollocks, its very simple, just pay the people. You don’t need a cabinet meeting for that.

    What I now expect is that because these workers went to the news media, and opposition media at that. They will now experience spite and malice that they never new existed. They can all expect to get sent home, and wait for months to be paid. How dare they complain about not being paid.

    Of course its not as if this is the only group to of complained about not being paid, its a frequent event, teachers, agriculture, all sorts of employees treated like estate slave.

    What we are told and what actually happens is two different things, these people will suffer. I am sure they will be punished severely.

    If we needed irrigation before the hurricane, and the equipment was damaged, surely we need equipment after the hurricane, so replace it and put these people to work.

    The wickedness meeted out to our estate slaves is a disgrace, it really is time that we dump this man, because these workers and their children are many more time important than he is.

    Gonsalves instead of tramping around the world interfering and poking your nose into anything and everything, stay at home and look after the people. If you can’t do that instruct people that can reliably do that for you, if your incapable of doing that, get the hell out, we no longer have any use whatsoever for you.

    It really is time to go, we no longer want you or need you, if we ever did that is.

  2. patrickferrari says:

    Seems like somebody dropped the ball – again. On workers this time. And that’s all there is going to be to it – again.

    La Comrade said the problem “has nothing to do with absence of resources”. “It has simply to do with inefficiencies and inadvertencies by persons who are responsible to ensure that you do not have such inefficiencies and inadvertencies.” Aye, it’s the black sigatoka deja vu – almost verbatim.

    If no one is reprimanded – at least – for “inefficiencies and inadvertencies” and inhumane negligence then the problem has everything to do with absence of resouces. The ones in charge of resources are the ones in charge of reprimanding – casting the (not first) stone. It would be at themselves and that is why there is an absence of reprimands – for the past 12 years.

    It is that simple. As well as being that obvious.

    The bigger question is this: in the end, who are the “persons who are responsile to ensure that you do not have such inefficencies aned inadvertencies”? David Beckham?

    Prime Minister, sensure thyself, find out where the buck stops, and we’d move forward.

    Alas, our problem is the global slowdown. Not!

  3. PATRICKFERRARI, for this group of people ‘owning the government’ and ‘owning the jobs’ doesn’t seem to of helped them.

    I just hope that they can drop the ‘NAH TUN BACK’ motto, and turn back to a fruitful future, with people who appreciate them as free human beings, not as field slaves.

    All these trick sayings to fool the poor and ignorant, is a crime against humanity, they must be brought out of slavery, slavery of the mind, soul and body.

    They really have been tricked by the educated who have degrees in political science, who have experimented on these people.

    The decent thing to do is pay them what they are owed, pay them compensation, ask the Kingstown stores to forgive them any debts, or pay those debts. Start refitting the irrigation systems and treat these people like free men, not slaves.

    But having taken this matter to the newspapers, radio and television, exposing the situation, I expect that they will be punished with spite and malice. How dare they do such a thing. Its fortunate for them that they cannot be flogged, because that’s what they deserve.

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