Report of TAMCC settlement labelled fake news by union

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada 

  • Workers led by the Public Workers Union refuted settlement claims released on social media
  • Sixth week of protest involving 243 permanent workers employed by college council

A report circulating on social media to have stemmed from the Interim Chairman of the College Council, Augustine Vesprey, that a settlement has been reached between the Public Workers Union (PWU), and the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) Council has been described as fake news.

The ongoing protest involving 243 permanent workers employed by the college council, is over the none payment of increments amounting to over $6.1 million over the past six years.

A release dated 6 December 2019 and entitled “Payment of increments to TAMCC staff” stated in part that the council had on 6 December 2019, presented the unions with a formal written offer wherein council will pay the $6.1 million increment in three tranches:

That the first scheduled payment will be made by 30 December 2019 in the sum of $1.5 million

The schedule for the payment of the other tranches will be made by 30 March 2020 upon the receipt by the council of the completed manpower and financial audit reports. These reports will become the basis for an understanding of the available financial leverage and, for ensuring prudence in the scheduling and payment of the remaining tranches.

Now into their sixth week of protest, affected workers led by the Public Workers Union (PWU), refuted the claims made in the release. “We are now seeing that there is a letter on Facebook stating that a settlement has been reached. We are not aware of any settlement. As a matter of fact, the last meeting that we attended with TAMCC, the chairman took this as a joke and to us, he was playing games,” said PWU President, Rachel Roberts.

Roberts said the union proposal still stands in that they are willing to accept their payment in three tranches starting with a $2 million payment in December and the other two tranches in 2020 at a reasonable time. “We went to a meeting with TAMCC and they indicated that at this time they can only pay $1.5 million. We indicated that what they will agree to would be a settlement in three tranches and the three tranches must mean that $2 million must be paid by December and the other $4 million, we would be able to accept it in 2020 in a reasonable time, so we didn’t give them a time frame,” she said.

The PWU president said the union is not clear as to when the next meeting will take place with the council on this outstanding matter and is also not convinced that the council’s declaration that they can only pay $1.5 million came as a result of consultation with cabinet. “The chairman indicated to us that TAMCC is only able to pay $0.5 million. When we stood our ground and we pressured the chairman he then went outside to make a phone call — but we are not certain that a true phone call was made because as he said he went outside to call the cabinet to determine what it is that the cabinet has decided to pay — and then he came back in and said the cabinet has decided that they will put in $1 million, but we are not certain that we can take his word for gospel.”

Meanwhile, President of the Lecturers Association at TAMCC, Adunni Johnson, said the lecturers will continue with the industrial action but he remains hopeful that a solution can be had very soon. He stated that the issue is much bigger than just a financial one, but also deals with the management of the college.

“The issue is not just a financial issue, the financial issue is just the icing on the cake but what led to the breakdown because there is little or no management at the college, so at present, we have to be hopeful but we remain between a rock and hard place,” said Johnson.

Johnson said it remains unclear if a report was submitted by the council to cabinet. Telephone calls to the Interim Chairman went to voicemail.

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