Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said 16,000 healthcare workers have been paid the remaining 50 per cent arrears of salary, amounting to about $636,000,000.
But Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke said Deyalsingh “should refrain from boasting about paying arrears because the dollar has devalued since 2013” and “Tobago workers have not received one cent”.
Duke said he will be meeting with the relevant stakeholders on Wednesday to plan the next course of action.
A news release issued by the Ministry of Health on Saturday said:
“The Government has fulfilled its stated commitment to pay the remaining 50 per cent arrears of salary to all eligible employees of the regional health authorities (RHAs) who were previously paid the first 50 per cent of arrears. Over 16,000 workers in the healthcare system benefited from this payment of the remaining 50 per cent arrears of salary, which amounted to approximately $636,000,000.
It added: “The ministry takes the opportunity to thank all healthcare workers for their patience and dedication to duty as together we strive to deliver quality healthcare services.”
Duke: Dollar has been devalued, not one cent for Tobago
Contacted in Bloody Bay, Tobago, yesterday, Duke said: “I am disappointed they took 2011-2013 time period. The rate of exchange was $6.15 to US$1, today it’s $7 to US$1. A person with $60,000 could buy over US$8,000. Your dollar would have devalued, NIS (National Insurance) has gone up, they have increased VAT, they have increased gas. Cost of transportation has gone up, people are catching their ‘nenen’... This makes it extremely painful to be living on a 2013 salary.
“Workers are unhappy...Tobago workers have not received one cent. We were told in a video Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Secretary of Finance (Joel Jack) said the money for Tobago will be paid in September. We want to know if sunrise and sunset in Tobago is different from Trinidad. What is the delay in receiving money in Tobago? Deyalsingh should not be boasting but he should be quite cautious,” he added.
Duke promised “the next course of action will not be easy”.
On March 31, Duke had indicated the money should be “in our account no later than April 6 or we will have a day of resistance on April 10”.
But on that day (April 10), about 30 per cent of PSA members responded to the “day of resistance”.