The New Today

Local News

Labour Minister defends NDC track record

Sen. Claudette Joseph – the current Attorney General & Minister for Labour

Grenada’s Attorney-General, Minister of Legal Affairs and Minister of Labour, Senator Claudette Joseph, has denied claims in some quarters that the two-year old Congress administration of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell is not honoring its election commitment to regularise unestablished public officers.

Addressing workers during Labour Day celebrations on the island Wednesday, the senior government minister said that the Department of Public Administration (DPA) is continuing to implement the regularisation framework that was prepared to make sure the process is fair and transparent.

She said that 300 persons were promised regularization in the first phase of the process and the government was able to make good on 298 workers – 187 in the mainstream public service and 111 teachers.

“Brothers and sisters, by any scoring formula that will give us an A,” she told hundreds of workers amidst an applause on the grounds of the Fond Recreation Playing Field in St Patrick.

According to Sen. Joseph, the near 2-year old NDC administration is also moving to regularise the controversial Imani workers under a programme that was started by the former New National Party (NNP) government of Keith Mitchell.

She made mention of the $500 a month increase in the stipend given to IMANIs in the 2024 Budget to make their payments align with the new Minimum Wage Bill that was passed in Parliament.

“This resulted in the government putting an additional $14 million in the hands of the young Imani workers with this adjustment,” she said.

Minster Joseph disclosed that the Congress regime has also started to make payments to the state-run National Insurance Scheme (NIS) for the IMANIs, which was never done under the previous government.

The senior government minister also lauded her government for taking several initiatives since coming into office to protect the workers of the country, including the number of amendments made to the legislation governing the operations of the NIS.

She said that in 2023, a number of amendments were made to the NIS law in an effort “to safeguard the fund for the benefit of all contributors.”

She added these changes were recommended since 2016 under the former NNP administration of Keith Mitchell but nothing was done about it.

“The fact is that if these changes did not come into effect the fund will die in 2025,” she told the annual Labour Day rally.

Sen. Joseph noted that on May 1, 2023, the Congress regime passed legislation in Parliament to bring into effect the NIS unemployment benefit package for the very first time on the island for payment to registered contributors who are unemployed or self-employed but lost their jobs through no fault of their own.

Related:  Trini murder accused was paying dues to NIS

She disclosed that 204 persons have already benefited from the new arrangement at a value of $367,000.

Minister Joseph also addressed the thorny issue of pension reform, in light of the current position of Congress that the current arrangement is not sustainable.

She said: “Brothers and sisters, this NDC administration is committed to sustainable wage bill management and to fostering a happy, optimistic, productive and efficient workforce. Key to achieving this is the issue of Pension Reform. Based on certain employment practices that we inherited, certain groups were denied any pension at all and so they will work for years and leave the Public Service without a Pension.

“The Pension Reform that we propose will address this issue while ensuring that pension for existing permanent employees is secured. The Pension Reform Committee has made significant progress in designing a new Pension Plan considering key factors in consultation with stakeholders.”

“This administration has already allocated $1.6 Million to this new contributory Pension Plan which will guarantee a Pension for government workers who previously did not qualify for Pension.

AG Joseph stressed that Pension reform is unavoidable in Grenada because the current scheme cannot be sustained in the long run.

Weeks before the June 2022 general election, High Court judge Justice Raulston Glasgow delivered a landmark decision in favour of the Public Workers Union (PWU) that all established public officers were entitled to a pension once they met the qualifying threshold.

Speculation is rife that the manner in which the NNP handled the issue, especially after the ruling of the court, might have contributed to its downfall at the polls.

AG Joseph also announced that with the assistance of the Labour Advisory Board, the Congress government is at an advanced stage in unveiling a new Labour Code for the country.

She said that a number of fundamental changes will be included in the new arrangement. For the first time, provision will be made for paid paternity leave for men, as well as an extension of maternity leave for women from 3 months to fourteen weeks “in accordance with ILO and UN standards.”

In addition, a new dispute resolution mechanism will be introduced, according to AG Joseph.

If you are satisfied with the information provided by The New Today to our many readers, followers and supporters around the world, then you can show your appreciation by making a financial contribution to the effort of our team of dedicated workers.

Giving back is a way of saying thank you for our efforts

Support The New Today