CHAIRMAN of the Siparia Regional Corporation (SRC) Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh held a press conference at his office on Monday to deal with the issue of 120 temporary and casual workers who were marked for dismissal from their jobs.
“Workers will stay on the job as the decision has been made that money allocated for material and minor supplies will now be used to pay workers.”
This came after an emergency meeting with the CEO of the SRC and its councillors.
Ramadharsingh explained that the planners, the financial officer, and the CEO are responsible for the management of the corporation. The CEO, he said, who is the accounting officer, cannot spend money he does not have. When there is no cement, gravel, oil sand or blocks to work with, he said, temporary and casual workers cannot be utilised because of this "starvation" for funds.
“The government was about to let go 120 workers, until funds were available,” he said.
The Personal and Industrial Relations Officer called 99 of these workers after 3 pm on Friday. Afterwards, Ramadharsingh informed all councillors of the emergency meeting on the issue.
Funding for the SRC, he said, has been inadequate and disappointing. The government, he said, talked about local government reform, which has a rural development aspect, but there had been blatant rural neglect.
“We have been grinding to a halt, because out if $1 million we get, we have $100,000 to spread across nine electoral districts and each councillor gets $10,000 to buy cement, gravel, and oil sand in his area. In the goods and services (area), we have been at a challenge to buy diesel, batteries, and tyres. We have to share batteries in vehicles.”
Ramadharsingh said he "would not like to believe" the corporation was starved of funds because it is a UNC-led corporation.
"We are in mid-August and we are about to go into another budget and we only received 25 per cent of our allocation.” he added.
“The powers that be need to send the money that is statutory, it was read in the budget and should be sent to the corporations.”
From a report sent to him, he said, it appeared in Diego Martin 200 new workers had been hired.
“I would like to know how these workers are being paid,” he asked.
When there is no money to buy uniforms, he said, workers do not work with chemicals or take up garbage, because they "tell you they are unionised."
With this kind of behaviour from the PNM, he said, it will not win any seats in the Siparia area in the upcoming local government elections.
The leader of the PNM’s team on the SRC, Gerald Debesette, said Ramadharsingh’s statement to the media that 120 workers were to be dismissed was misleading.
Speaking at the SRC’s chamber, Debesette said Ramadharsingh’s statement was premeditated and reckless and caused trauma among the workers.
"At this time our country is going through a recession and everyone is affected, but it is not as bad as what Ramadharsingh makes it out to be," he said.
Ramadharsingh, he said, was trying to score political points as local government elections approach.
Debesette said local government reform was to come into effect and that would give more power to regional corporations.