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Friday 17 August 2018
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Worker claims TDC hasn't paid wages

According to an employee at the Tourism Development Company (TDC), the staff has yet to receive their July salary and management has not given any indication of when they will be paid.

The employee; who asked that her name not be revealed, yesterday told Newsday, "All 112 of us continue to show up to work every single day. So why aren't we getting paid?"

"There are five sites vested with the TDC; Maracas, Las Cuevas, Manzanilla, Vessigny and the Pitch Lake in La Brea. Staff at those sites, at our Port-of-Spain head office and at our small office at the Piarco International Airport, have been coming to work every single day, fulfilling our duties. We normally get paid between the 25th and 26th of each month but as of today (July 27), we still haven't gotten paid."

The employee also said that in an effort to sort out the situation, the branch representatives of the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) met on Wednesday with the TDC's Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Cliff Hamilton.

"The meeting began in the morning and ended around midday. The CEO said the board is fully aware of staffs' monthly standing orders; which are usually deducted from the bank accounts starting on the 27th of each month, so the board will meet on Friday (today) to discuss salary payments."

The TDC employee lamented that Hamilton did not give a specific date by which staff could expect to receive their July salaries.

Back in March, Government announced it planned to dissolve the TDC and establish two new entities to manage tourism - one for Trinidad and one for Tobago.

Then on June 30, the Industrial Court granted the CWU its request for an emergency injunction, which restrains the TDC from "terminating the services of any of the workers or doing any such action until and unless the entire matter is heard before the Court."

The union had filed two previous complaints, relative to a decision to shut down the TDC without consulting the CWU and the development of VSEP packages to be considered by the Cabinet. A decision to dissolve the TDC was announced at a post-Cabinet media briefing on March 9.

The TDC employee who spoke with Newsday yesterday expressed concern about how this latest uncertainty would affect a fellow employee who is seven months pregnant.

"As part of the injunction, the status quo remains, so persons should get paid and should get their gratuity. My colleague had an emotional breakdown last week - her contract ended in June and, as was custom, she was supposed to receive her gratuity for that contract and continue to work as normal while waiting to sign her new contract."

"However, the TDC still hasn't given the pregnant woman any indication of when she can expect to get her gratuity. Now, she's owed her July salary too. This woman is the sole breadwinner in her family and in addition to medical expenses for her upcoming delivery, she was counting on her gratuity to pay her sister's medical school fees. Two banks have turned her down for a loan. What are we to do?" the TDC employee asked.

Apart from not getting paid yet, she wanted to know why TDC staff were not given the opportunity to apply for jobs in the new Trinidad tourism entity.

"Staff are frustrated, no longer motivated but we still continue to do what jobs are left for us to do. All we want to do is work and we can't understand they're looking to dissolve the TDC when they're going to open up another entity to perform the same task. When TIDCO (Tourism and Industrial Development Company) was dissolved 12 years ago, employees got the opportunity to apply for positions in the TDC," the TDC employee said.

Newsday was unsuccessful in its attempts yesterday to speak with the TDC CEO and with Tourism Minister, Shamfa Cudjoe.


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