OUTSTANDING gratuities owed by the THA will be tackled head on. This according to Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis last week as he addressed reporters during the weekly post Executive Council media briefing at the Anne Mitchell-Gift Auditorium of the Scarborough Library.
Dennis said very early in his tenure, he would have given a mandate to the Chief Administrator to ensure that the necessary evaluation, introspection and research is done and recommendations made on how the “untenable” situation can be treated with.
“I take no pleasure in saying that we have situations where some persons have not been paid gratuity from as far back as the year 2004. Therefore, I have committed, and I will commit again to the people of Tobago that we are going to tackle that issue frontally, we are going to tackle it head on.
“As Chief Secretary and an Executive Council by extension, we will put the necessary pressure on the system to ensure we get the desired results. So today, we approved a number of initiatives that we expect if done properly and effectively would in fact treat with that issue to a great extent,” he said.
Firstly, he said that the Assembly has taken a decision to standardise three-year contracts. “Therefore, under no circumstances, will we encourage divisions to enter into one- and two-year employment contracts. We have already started the process to ensure that across the board, three-year contracts would apply,” he said.
He went further explaining how this would assist in treating with the situation. “If two persons are engaged by a division for a total of three years each and they were placed on one-year contracts, then the gratuity process would be initiated no less than six times. If those same individuals were engaged on three-year contracts, then the gratuity process would only be initiated on two occasions.
"Therefore, in doing this, we believe that that would relieve some of the pressure on the system, it would also allow Tobagonians to be able to stand firmly in the banks and be in a better position to get loans, whether it be for cars, home improvement whatever is required. We believe that that decision would assist our employees in the THA in those circumstances as well,” he said.
Adding that just as importantly, it would assist the operatives in the Assembly to manage the gratuity situation more effectively and more efficiently.
He also noted that the creation of a Gratuity Clearing House Project Team to be led by the Chief Management Accountant in the Office of the Chief Secretary, who would have the responsibility to oversee the entire process that is expected to run for a period of nine months.
Each division, he said would be allowed to engage a minimum of two persons in the position of gratuity associates and gratuity associates assistant and “they would have responsibility for ensuring that the necessary process, the necessary research, the finding of all documents that may be outstanding.
They would be responsible for ensuring that each gratuity, each individual impacted by this situation is in fact brought up to date.”