In T&T: NIB, Algico in wage protests

2 March 2012

If these wage protests are met ‘favourably,’ will the additional purchasing power be beneficial?

Employees of both the National Insurance Board (NIB) and insurance firm Algico yesterday held unrelated protests outside their offices in Port of Spain to highlight wage negotiations.
Workers at the NIB, led by Public Services Association (PSA) representative Terrence Regis called for better than the five per cent wage offer currently on the negotiation table.
“Consideration was being given to salaries at $95,000 per month to members of the executive. That would really amount to a one hundred per cent increase to the management here. What was vexing was that was taking place side by side with their efforts to shove a five per cent settlement down our throats. That is a real injustice,” Regis said.
“NIB has been a cash cow for CL Financial and several other companies. They used the money to finance compensation for themselves where salaries are in the vicinity of $300,000 per month. That’s a reality,” Regis said.
Regis said the NIB was now at the centre of unfair income distribution and the workers would not put up with a five per cent offer.
“Towards the end of January, NIB wrote the Minister (of Labour) virtually behind our backs to treat with the issue,” he said, adding that the ministry informed the union a month later.
“There have only been six meetings, so it is highly unlikely that the negotiations broke down,” Regis said.
Regis said he suspected that the NIB had friends in high places and was relying on those friends to force the union to accept the five per cent.
Workers at Algico have been offered more than the five per cent during negotiations but they refused to accept the offer until it crosses over into double digits.
Mario Als, vice president of the Banking, Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) spoke with workers outside Algico’s St Vincent Street office in Port of Spain yesterday and refused the company’s nine per cent wage offer.
Als said even with the nine per cent offer, the company was seeking to reduce workers’ benefits and he was not prepared to accept that.
He said the union rejected that proposal at the last meeting and expected the company to change the offer at yesterday’s meeting.
“But they made a proposal identical to the last one,” he said. “We are not prepared to accept any nine per cent. We expect the company will in fact abide by whatever we consider norms and in the financial sector the norm is double digits.”


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