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PTSC backpay late

...Dec 31 promise broken

By Irene Medina

The Transport and Industrial Workers Union (TIWU) met in emergency session with Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC) officials yesterday morning over the non-payment of backpay, which was due to workers on or before December 31, 2012.

The meeting at South Quay in Port of Spain followed complaints by workers who were disappointed over the corporation's broken promise to pay them before the end of the year.

PTSC general manager Ronald Forde assured, "I am working assiduously to have the matter resolved...everything is progressing quite smoothly."

He said he held discussions with Issac James, acting permanent secretary of the Ministry, and with the union on the matter.

"I met with the union this morning. I continue to keep good faith with the workers as I always do. I meet with them on the first Monday of every month, and I level with them."

On December 19, TIWU president general Roland Sutherland signed a $96-million wage agreement with PTSC on behalf of the 2,500-3,000 workers who fell under the bargaining unit.

The figure represented a nine- per cent wage increase, which Sutherland claimed brought the workers in line for the first time in 45 years with other statutory bodies.

Sutherland assured the workers that the agreement signed with the PTSC general manager called "for backpay to be paid on or before the 31st of December".

But up to yesterday they received no money.

TIWU executive member Deon Stanislaus admitted there were some problems and delays in releasing the money to the workers.

"The total package was $96 million and the Ministry of Finance indicated that a Note had to be sent to the Cabinet before any processing could take place. The matter finally went before the Cabinet on the Thursday before Christmas.

"This led to a delay and on December 28, PTSC's general manager sent out a circular to the workers advising that they would be given an update on the matter by Thursday January 2, 2013.

"This morning the TIWU branch president for Port of Spain met with PTSC officials and was promised that the matter was being dealt with.

"The drivers as well as the other workers take no pleasure in any action that would negatively affect the public," he said.

"At this time the union is standing firmly behind whatever action the workers decide to take."

The affected workers include drivers, cleaners and engineering staff.

While Forde could not say when the backpay would be paid, he told the Express: "I stand in solidarity with my workers each and every time, and without them I cannot run the PTSC."

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