BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, June 4, 2020 (S.T.E.P.) — Director of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), Mr Emile Greene, is hailing Prime Minister, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris and his Team Unity Administration for listening and responding to the plight of STEP workers.
Prime Minister Harris, who is also the Minister of People Empowerment, announced on Monday evening (June 1), that the more than 3,000 STEP workers will become part of the permanent work force of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis from the 1st of July 2020.
“In my opinion, this is something that the STEP workers should celebrate,” said Mr Greene on Thursday June 4 as he visited STEP workers attached to the various Community Enhancement Groups. “It is something that they have been asking for. When we went along to the communities to hear their ideas and to tell them about the training opportunities that will be available for them, we took note, we listened, and we forwarded that information.”
Mr Greene, who was accompanied by Mr William Phillip, STEP Field Operations Manager, added: “I am very happy that the Prime Minister and his Cabinet that they have acted upon that information and that STEP workers now will be considered to be permanent employees – part of the civil service.”
The visits which started in St. Peter’s, were aimed at sharing the good news with the STEP workers while explaining to them what it means, going forward, to be a civil servant and the benefits attached to their new status which are very different from what they were exposed to as STEP interns earning the minimum wage.
“This is good news because what it means is that the STEP workers will finally receive job security that they deserve,” said Mr Greene. “It will enable them to have better access to loans, to hire purchase, and to other services provided by financial institutions. Even when persons want a letter to go to get a visa from the US Embassy, at least now as part of the civil service their employment will be considered and will be permanent.”
The information was well received by the STEP workers who were keen to understand the full impact of what it would mean to them after July 1 when they become permanent employees of the government of St. Kitts and Nevis as announced by the Prime Minister.
They learnt, and appreciated that they will benefit from the schemes that civil servants are able to access, such as paid vacations, pensions and the universal healthcare that is to be introduced and the fact that they can approach the National Housing Corporation and the Development Bank to get special loans to build their own houses among other benefits.
“I think that the Team Unity Government is indeed listening to the STEP workers – listening to the people and the country is making very good progress” said Mr Greene. “That means that nobody is being left behind, whether you are on STEP, whether you are an Auxiliary Government Employee (who will be made permanent as from September 1), that these workers and their families are covered by the schemes and the opportunities under Team Unity and as the Prime Minister said, under Team Unity nobody will be left behind.”
Mr Greene concluded: “As Director of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme, I am very happy to hear this announcement.”
STEP Field Supervisor in St. Peter’s, Mr Arthur Richards, who has been on the programme since its inception, said the announcement by the Prime Minister was a very good thing that happened to them. He added: “With all the STEP workers being permanent in the civil service now, it gives us the opportunity to plan ahead without any worries even if it is building your own house.”