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CWU Sets Record Straight on Social Security Board Negotiations

Yesterday we told you of the reports we had gotten that the SSB workers countrywide would be going on strike as a result of still not being paid their clothing allowance and negotiations with the Board having failed.  That information came from a credible source within the SSB, who told us that the action was being planned since twenty one days had passed and payment was still not forthcoming.  As a result of that news story aired, we did get a lengthy email from the Christian Workers Union referring to the story as erroneous while bringing into question several statements made in our story.  When our news desk was contacted by a senior employee at SSB, we were told that the strike action was being planned and that there was upset as they feel the SSB Board was going contrary to what the Prime Minister had indicated to them when they met on October 14.  That very same source had also indicated to us that the SSB Board was asking that a Memorandum of Understanding be signed and that was rejected.  The letter from the CWU to Love News referred to our report on the MOU, saying that the employees have never been presented with an MOU.  So, perhaps the term, MOU was misused but there was the request for a document to be signed, nonetheless, as was mentioned by Leonora Flowers in her letter to the Prime Minister, where she wrote, quote, “We continue to impress upon the CEO that we are willing to incorporate the changes into our CBA during the continued negotiations however he will not have it!   He insists that we accept these terms NOW in a side agreement prior to the disbursement.”  In this three page letter, the General Secretary of the CWU, Floyd Neal also took exception to the tone used when citing the employees concern or lack thereof as it regards to the cost of the uniforms.  We did also report in our news that the Prime Minister had indicated to us that in his meeting, he did say that he is not in a decision making position for the SSB and that the Board would have to have the final say.  He, however, did put two points to those at the meeting, that the period of time allotted to the SSB for the provision of uniforms be extended and that the uniforms from hereon, be sourced locally.  Once those two points were agreed to, the Prime Minister would then speak with the SSB Chairman, Doug Singh and recommend that the workers be facilitated with their clothing compensation and the two points be taken into effect.  And while, we did speak to the Prime Minister on the matter, the Christian Workers Union, headed by Audrey Matura Shepherd, noted their disappointment that we did not seek them for an interview on the matter since, quote, the CWU has a record to being very open to the media.” End of quote.  Indeed, the strike did not take place today and it is being reported that it was due to insufficient support from the workers.  We can tell you, however, that in an email sent by the CEO to the SSB staff, it was made clear that the SSB is willing to remit payment to the workers as early as Monday.  That statement in the letter, read, quote, “be reminded that any dispute should have been resolved via Article IX (Grievance Machinery) of the current CBA. The CWU always preaches how important it is to abide by the CBA but that approach does not appear to be convenient at this time.  Nevertheless, as can be seen from the chronicle of events, four attempts have now been made to make payment and to put this matter behind us. Is this not the payment that is the cause for agitation?  Finally, it is worth mentioning that the total cost for this uniform cycle (inclusive of the pending payment) now stands at $376,641.56, which is equivalent to $1,379.64 per person. I hope that sensibility prevails going forward.”  End of quote.