$22.6m payout to workers fired under UNC govts

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There will be payouts to certain workers affected by issues under two previous United National Congress governments.

Some 450 former Unemployment Relief Programme workers terminated under the past PP/UNC administration will soon receive $22.6 million in payments – and 10 workers of the former Audio Visual Media company will also receive $408,000 owed from the first UNC administration.

Communication Minister Stuart Young revealed this at yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, after Cabinet decided to make both sets of payments.

Young said the past PP/UNC Government terminated the 450 URP workers and litigation was brought by two sets of workers. He said Government received senior counsel advice on it and is settling the matter.

“We’re trying to pay this by August 20,” Young added.

Young also said 10 AVM workers would be paid a total of $408,000 owed in gratuity and ex gratia payments owed to them since 1997 under the Basdeo Panday government.

In the 1970s, radio and television broadcast veterans Bobby Thomas, Bryan Waller and brothers Arnold and Dale Kolasingh established AVM (Caribbean Ltd), a production house focusing on producing commercials and local current affairs programmes. It went on to become AVM Television, which was acquired by the State in early 1997 and merged with the then-state-owned International Communications Network (ICN).

Young said when AVM ceased operations in 1997, “it seemed certain people were hand-picked not to get gratuity and ex gratia payments. We investigated to ascertain why it wasn’t dealt with then in 1997. We did verification and these stalwarts in their field will get their payments. It’s taken 18 years to resolve this longstanding matter which was left to languish.”

He projected their payments in about a month.

Works Minister Rohan Sinanan also announced work on the San Fernando Waterfront would begin in the next two months over a two-year period at a cost of $143m. Expressions of interest are also being issued for parking meters for Port-of-Spain and San Fernando. This plan will be extended to other areas, including Tobago, later on.

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