Payment To Ex-Sugar Worker Months Away


Some former Sugar Industry workers and their families were none too happy to learn that the $16m in owed severance is unlikely be paid out before September.

On March 30, the Unity government under Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris secured a $16million grant from the government of Venezuela to “assist the former sugar workers of St. Kitts and Nevis who were deprived in respect of the management of the severance package”.

A few days later Dr. Harris informed that a Committee had been established to manage the payment process and would have its first report presented to the government in about 3 weeks’ time.

On Tuesday PM Harris said the 17-member multi-stakeholder Committee had been working hard under the stewardship of Chairman Osbert Desouza, permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.

He said a secretariat will be opened in Basseterre shortly to receive concerns, reports and recommendations from the former sugar workers.

The Committee has asked for more time to put forward its final report, he said, “to ensure the views and concerns of all are considered”.

The actual payout is not expected to come before September 2015, Dr. Harris informed.

“I have granted that very reasonable request. We in this government will not hurry ourselves, lest we live by the maxim, ‘hurry dog eat raw corn’,” said the PM.

“It is tentatively proposed that this Committee will complete its report soonest and that we will make a single payment, single instalment- not three as was done last time- to the former sugar workers on or before Independence of 2015. So that may well be their Independence treat.”

The Observer spoke with a few who worked in the sugar industry prior to its closing in 2005 who expressed the view that it was taking too long for the government to sort out the payment.

“So long we waiting for it and they say they get the money and we gone get pay, now dem dress back the time. I hope when dey pay it is the right amount after we wait till September,” one man said.

Some said they understood that it would take time to sort out who was owed what, especially since some monies were paid out before.

“Nobody is happy to hear they have to wait to get paid what they are owed but at the same time I think we should understand that it can’t happen overnight. They just got the money. We didn’t expect to get anything more because the previous government said all that was owed was paid, so what if we have to wait until September?” the daughter of two ex-sugar workers related.

“It was a lot of piece piece paying and people saying they didn’t get all their money. It won’t be easy to sort out because they have to make sure they don’t double pay some people and short pay others.”

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