Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Tears as Port pensioners get payout after 4-year wait


THANKFUL: Sharon Mark, left, acting CEO, Port Authority, presents a cheque to Wendy Rodriguez Mendoza who received it on behalf of her uncle Eugene Songue during yesterday’s ceremony at the Port Administration Building, Dock Road, Port of Spain. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

Mark Fraser

After a four-year wait, eight  pensioners of the Port Authority of Trinidad and Tobago finally received their ex-gratia payment  at the Authority’s Dock road office, Port of Spain, yesterday.

In 2006 Cabinet approved an ex-gratia payment to pensioners of the Authority’s three pension plans as at 2005 and persons who accepted voluntary separation in 1970 (Tamarind Square Association members).

Funds for payments were provided by the Government and were put into CLICO Investment Bank Ltd. The crash of the CLICO group  in 2009 greatly affected 28 Port Authority  pensioners and former employees as they were unable to receive their cheques.

The Port Authority tried to make contact with the 28 and their beneficiaries but was only successful in reaching ten.

 Only eight of the pensioners made it to yesterday’s presentation. One pensioner, who is currently bedridden, received her cheque on Thursday from the Authority while another pensioner couldn’t attend.

“It was a really frustrating period for pensioners because the Port could only do so much to get the monies,” Camille Hypolite-Ferdinand, financial consultant at the Port, said. 

“Which is why we are so happy to be here this afternoon.”

 One pensioner cried as she received her cheque from acting general manager/chief executive officer of the Port , Sharon Mark. Another thanked Mark and Hypolite-Ferdinand for helping him to be patient all these years; and one of the voluntary separation pensioners simply wished the two women God’s blessings.

In addressing the group Mark,  a former banker, thanked everyone present for their patience and apologised for the delay on behalf of “officialdom”. 

“My advice to you is to use the money wisely. I know that you have been waiting for this for a while; but put away something. That is my message to you.” 

Another batch of ten  pensioners is  expected to be paid in the coming months.  Hypolite-Ferdinand said the Port Authority has been unsuccessful in reaching 13 former employees—Nicholson Charles, Horace Duncan, Milton Goodridge, Roy Graham, Leonard Greaves, Enid Henry, Carlton Joseph, Simeon Lawrence, Desmond Ollivierre, Bolvin Richards, Aldwyn Spring, Jerome Wilson and Gerald Gaskill and she appealed to those employees or their legal representatives to contact the Port’s Human Resources Department.

The Port’s ex-gratia payments overall will amount to $1 million. The funds are now held at RBC Trust (T&T) Ltd.