Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 18, 2017 (SKNIS): Government is set to improve the conditions of some 1200 plus Government Auxiliary Employees (GAE), once called Non-Established Workers, as Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, had an inaugural meeting with the Pension Committee on Wednesday, May 17, to devise a pension plan to benefit the category of workers, who were not entitled to a pension upon leaving government work.
Torfrida Rochester, Chief Personnel Officer, explained the plan for Non-Established Workers before the Team Unity Administration assumed office.
"It was promised that the government will undertake to pay the employees three percent until there was a salary review and so in reality the three percent would be an interim increase but government had promised that it would give a salary increase so that the three percent deduction would be no burden for the auxiliary workers. It should have been at that time upon the increase that the government auxiliaries begin to pay their contributions," said Torfrida Rochester. "What happened after that is, we went through a series of meetings...and we tried to put something into existence, what could be terms and conditions relating to the plan. We also had meetings to try to do a new Pensions Act to accommodate the new regime and to get some regulations done."
Prime Minister Harris said that the issue has been outstanding for too long and it is important to ensure that it is corrected.
"It is about a good time as any that we try to expedite the process to bring this formally into play and the Cabinet is anxious that we are able by September 01  to be able to make firm determination in terms of an implementation date," said Prime Minister Harris. ..."we have to look at the body of Non-Established Workers that are on record at this time and how we can bring them some justice in terms of their expectations that they would have had a pension. Their situation in my view is even more serious because as we understood it from about 2012, the government then had brought an end to the payment of their holiday pay."
During his recent monthly press conference, Prime Minister Harris said that a committee was established to advise the government on all aspects of the matter. The committee comprises of Mrs. Torfrida Rochester, Chief Personnel Officer, Ms. Shernel James, Labour Commissioner (Ag), Mr. Calvin Edwards, Budget Director, Representative of the Legal Department, Mr. Glenroy Woodley, Non-established Worker and a Representative of the Accountant General Department.
Prime Minister Harris stated that the Committee should complete its work by the second quarter of 2017 allowing for a determination by the government on the way forward in 2017. He encouraged all employees in both public and private sectors to give their best performance in attendance, punctuality in work quality and ingenuity.
Within the Civil Service Pension Plan for Auxiliary Employees, persons will receive a pension upon retirement – the age of retirement being 62 or higher as determined by Social Security. The new pension plan is a Defined Contribution Plan, where both the employer and employee each contribute three percent. GAEs retirement benefits will be a combined payout of their contributions and the government's contribution plus any interest. In the case where an employee would not have contributed enough to receive a satisfactory minimum pension, that employee shall also receive a compassionate gratuity.
The meeting was held at the Parliamentary Lounge at Government Headquarters. It was attended by Prime Minister Harris; Mrs. Rochester; Josephine Huggins, Cabinet Secretary; Tashna Powell-Williams, Crown Counsel; Jacqueline Chiverton, representative from the Department of Labour; Clifford Griffin, Human Resource Officer; Calvin Edwards, Deputy Financial Secretary; Levi Bradshaw, Accountant General – Treasury Department; and Glenroy Woodley, Public Works.