Despite repeated queries, complaints, newspaper articles and letters to the editor, Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) invigilators are still having problems receiving their pay.
Newsday recently spoke with three invigilators who supervised Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) exams at Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain last year, amidst the covid19 pandemic, but still have not been paid.
One of them, Shawn Lewis, said he and all the other unpaid workers have been given the "run-around," month after month, when they contact the Ministry of Education for an explanation and update.
Since all invigilators are paid through the respective schools where the exams were supervised, Lewis said none from Holy Name Convent were paid.
Despite not receiving last year's dues, all three invigilators who spoke with Newsday, said they were called by the Ministry of Education to provide their services again this year.
Lewis, who supervised the exams for the first time last year said the experience has left a bitter taste in his mouth.
"They called me in January I believe, and I declined because you can't expect me to do exams and I haven't been paid for the last set of exams."
Lewis said the ministry official sounded desperate, probably because people are becoming more aware of how difficult it is to receive compensation.
"Just this week, I came off the phone with one of them (MoE employee). They can't tell me why the payment hasn't been made yet. And I'm asking if it's an issue of a name being wrong or bank issues or anything like that and they keep saying if one person gets something wrong, everyone has to suffer."
"I was like, you've been telling us this every month. We were supposed to get paid at the beginning of April (2020). How can grown adults be making the same mistakes over and over since June-July last year."
Another one of the invigilators said upon enquiring, she was either ignored or given different excuses by ministry officials. She said one of the more common excuses is that an error forced the process to start all over, and that providing a date for the payment would not be possible.
She said she was told by a friend who works at the ministry that in order to expedite the process, she should go to the office and "make a scene."
"Yesterday (Friday), I spoke with a young lady that works there as an OJT (On-The-Job Training Programme) and she was telling me that they accustomed giving people a run-around.
"She telling me I need to come in and make a scene and act like an old (expletive). I don't believe I have to be an old (expletive) to get something I worked for. Rain fall, sunshine, whatever time I was supposed to be there, I was there."
She, like Lewis, supervised for 11 days, some of which included more than one exam. Lewis said he could not speculate whether the problems stem from incompetence or something more sinister. "I believe they just don't care, once they get their monthly salary.
"If we don't push for it, they just won't give us any feedback. Fortunately, Lewis has a full-time job. However, some of the other invigilators he said are in a worse position. "I want my money," he said, "but it is also a matter of principle."
The money owed to the invigilators working at Holy Name Convent range from hundreds to several thousand dollars.
Newsday contacted Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby Dolly, who offered an explanation for the delay in making payments over the last year.
She said in a text message, "The unusually late time frame in which the exam was held resulted in the payment schedule clashing with the end of the financial year. This would have caused major delays in the processing time.
"In addition," she said, "more invigilators were hired due to the need for social distancing. Added to that is the fact that there are MoE staff with children who are working on rotation to accommodate childcare arrangements."
Although not directly addressing the matter of payments to Holy Name Convent's invigilators, she said, "We are trying to mitigate this (this year). January payments have begun."