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Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)
Opposition Leader, Arnhim Eustace. (IWN file photo)

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace wants the Government to compensate Port Police officers in accordance with the severance pay law it amended last month.

Eustace said a letter to the 84 Port Police officers, all of whom will be sent home this month, suggests that their severance pay will not take into account their first two years of employment.

“I find that to be wrong because I think the entire 10 years ,or whatever period you have [worked], should be covered,” he said Monday on his weekly radio programme.

He noted that Parliament last month amended the Protection of Employment Act to make it clear that workers are entitled to severance pay from day one of their employment.

“It is from zero (day one of employment) to 10 [years] and anything above six months should be treated as a year,” Eustace said, noting that the Port Police was established about 10 years ago.

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“So I don’t understand how it can be from two to 10 years given the present law. … The Port workers should insist that the get from zero — from the first six months period — right up to the time they are severed,” he further said.

Eustace noted that if the first two years are not taken into account, workers will receive one month’s pay less in their severance package.

He further said that since the Labour Commissioner had ruled that Port Police were entitled to three years’ increment, the severance pay should be calculated based on a salary that includes the increments.

“I am hoping that that is being done but from what I see in a letter that was brought to me this morning, that is not what is being done. I see no reference there to the increments whatsoever, and therefore, the severance pay is lower than it ought to be and the workers and their union will have to look at that, otherwise they will get much less than they are supposed to get…

“It is a serious matter that should be given some thought to see what is fair for the workers,” Eustace said, noting that the Port Police are being severed but still have financial obligations.

“So, I want the union to take those things into account. I am pretty sure the union will do it but I am just stating my position as president of the New Democratic Party and as a Vincentian.”

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves announced in May that the Port Police would be disbanded.

The announcement came after a sickout by the Port Police, which Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, said exposed the country to potential negative repercussions under the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code.

“I am prepared to accept that the flexible system of the Port Police has not been a success…” he told Parliament last month. “I am taking a decision in the interest of the people,” he further said.

He was speaking during debate on an amendment to the Protection of Employment Act.

The Government said the amendment was needed to make it clear that persons are entitled to severance pay from the first day of employment and not after two years, as a court had interpreted the previous law to mean.

Meanwhile, Eustace said on Monday that he was not involved in orchestrating the Port Police sick out.

“I heard about the industrial action when it happened. I didn’t know anything about it before,” he said, adding that he has been paying attention to the development since.

6 replies on “Eustace calls on Gov’t to obey severance pay law”

  1. I believe the decision to fire these men was taken by Gonsalves, regardless of any thing else we are told I believe it was his orders and his demand to fire them, and I think it was taken totally out of spite and malice.

    Some of the police held a sickout because the government were not paying them what they were due and what they owed them, after much talk and requests from the officers, the sickout was their only way of registering their demands, bring their grievances to the public.

    The joke is that regular police will cost the government more to employ.

    It is obvious that the Gonsalves government will try and bilk on what is truly due to these officers being dismissed.

    Like he once told the teachers, if you remember that, that they were just a few people who would not make any difference to him being re-elected, their votes meant nothing to him.

    What amazes me is, if the NDP were doing this kind of thing, the unions would come together and shut the country down. I believe its only because Gonsalves now owns the unions and the body and souls of the union leaders, that he is able to get away with this. In fact the unions don’t really exist any more, they are just like the shells of dead snails, easy to walk on and crush.

    It really is time for the people to rise up against this despotic behaviour, and take back the country, revitalise the unions, clear out all the bought Marxist union leaders that are sitting there pretending to serve their workers and members, when they are really only serving the leader of this evil regime.

    And before any one asks I am not suggesting anyone acts illegally or violently, there are lots of peaceful options.

  2. Cadwall King says:

    Can you imagie Arnhim Eustace calling on Government to obey severance pay laws? Mr. Eustace, why aren’t you paying Mrs Nicolls her twelve years severance pay? Isn’t this hypocritical? Go figure!

    1. If you could only read the Severance Payments Act! When one is terminated ‘for cause” severance payment is not payable. You should have read before commenting.Go figure

  3. I know nothing about why this woman was dismissed, just as you nothing about why I dismissed one of my staff last year. Unless you know the full circumstances mind your own business least you open something up and cause severe embarrassment for the woman. There are lots of employment rules and laws in place that will help her if she has been wronged.

    We need to keep our mind on the matter of these men being shafted by a scum regime.




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