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TAMCC workers demand $6.1m in outstanding increments

TAMCC workers were seen protesting outside the college’s administrative building

Minister with responsibility for Tertiary Education, Skills Development and Educational Outreach, Pamela Moses has dismissed claims by the President of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Rachel Roberts that the government of Grenada owes millions of dollars in increments to workers of the T. A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC).

PWU members who make up the majority of workers employed at TAMCC that is run by a College Council have been engaged in industrial action outside the TAMCC administrative building.

Led by their bargaining agent, the workers took protest action to demonstrate their frustration and discontentment with the non-payment of increments, which have reportedly accumulated to over $6.1m during the period 2014-18.

The organised protest, led by PWU President, Rachel Roberts, also saw members of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT) including President Lydon Lewis, showing up on the TAMCC compound in solidarity with the disgruntled employees.

However, Minister Moses told reporters on Tuesday that the Government is not the one responsible for paying increments to aggrieved PWU workers but that it is the responsibility of the College Council.

Addressing this issue at the weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministerial Complex, the female government minister pointed to Section 7 of the T. A. Marryshow Community College Act No. 41 of 1996, which governs the functioning of the college, which states that TAMCC is to be managed by a group of stakeholders referred to as the ‘College Council,’ which is authorised to make its own decisions and is allowed to function with adequate independence in making decisions pertaining to the daily operations of the college.

Chairman of the College Council, Augustine Vesprey was not too warmly greeted by protesters on Tuesday as he made his way to a meeting to discuss the issue of unpaid increments

“Now, since TAMCC really is a statutory body, the government is not responsible for paying the increment as demanded by the union representative and as such, the present impasse is really between the Council and the workers that are employed by the Council,” she said.

“Their increments, their salary increases and their pensions are paid for by College Council, not government,” she added.

TAMCC has two categories of workers, the first is the ‘Public Service Commission (PSC) workers’ comprising “35” individuals, who are represented by GUT.

According to Minister Moses these workers have also been benefitting from all of the government negotiations with public sector unions.

These workers, she said, were either transferred from ministries or schools to the college and continue to enjoy all the benefits of a public servant up to their retirement.

“According to section 26 and 27 of the TAMCC Act, they are workers on secondment and as such, will remain public officers with all their benefits that they enjoyed in the public service until the day that they retire (and) their increments are the responsibility of the government,” Moses said.

TAMCC’s College Council currently employs 243 permanent workers, who are represented by the Roberts-led PWU.

And while the Government of Grenada provides an annual subvention to TAMCC in the amount of $14 million to assist with its day-to-day operations, the college also has other sources of income including, tuition fees and grants received from donor agencies.

Minister Moses pointed out that a Finance Committee is in place to manage the finances of the college and “reports directly to the College Council.”

This body she said, is authorised by law through “Section 11 2 (e) of the TAMCC Act, to make recommendations for its (financial) investment thereafter.

“In as such, if it (the Finance Committee) can find savings, it (the committee), can use it to pay increments as it sees fit and all the Council has to do is just inform government of its decision.

“So, in light of this Cabinet has suggested that the College Council submit a plan to government detailing how it intends to pay the 6.1 million dollars of increments to the 243 permanent Council workers,”

According to the Tertiary Education Minister, the Council was expected to meet with both unions, PWU and GUT, later this week in an attempt to resolve the issue.

She confirmed that the Council has, since the impasse appointed a sub-finance committee to meet and discuss this matter.

Moments after Tuesday’s Post-Cabinet briefing, THE NEW TODAY caught up with Chairman of the College Council, Augustine Vesprey, who was on his way to attend another meeting on the TAMCC matter and he was greeted by scores of workers who flocked the pathway to the hall where the meeting was being held with placards in their hands.

“I am on my way to a meeting now,” Vesprey said when probed by the media but he promised to communicate with them after the session.

The female PWU boss has affirmed that the workers will continue with the protest action until they get a favourable response on the issue.

“Our strategy will be kept confidential until such time. So, you will see it unfolding as the days go by if we (do) not get some good word from TAMCC and the government of Grenada,” she declared.


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