Finance Minister Winston Jordan said that he was unaware that the reinstated ‘no tax overtime’ incentive for bauxite workers was not being utilised and that he will meet with the union concerned to determine why the workers were not receiving the benefit.
Jordan assured that it was not the failure on the government to honour the decision but rather “the follow-up for that did not happen.”
The reinstatement of the no tax overtime for bauxite workers was announced late last year by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon during a post-Cabinet press briefing.
Bauxite workers in discussion with Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources Simona Broomes
It was during a meeting with the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Natural Resources in Region 10 last month that the non-tax overtime issue was raised because bauxite workers in Linden were not receiving the announced benefit. Region 10 Councillor Charles Sampson complained to the Committee that nearly eight months after the announcement, workers have not received any benefit.
Chinese Company Bosai operates the bauxite plant in Linden while Russian company Rusal operates the bauxite plant in Kwakwani.
Jordan said that it is up to the union to ensure workers are enjoying the allowance. “They need to bring it to our attention about what needs to happen to activate it,” Jordan told GINA.
Meanwhile, Kenneth Joseph, General Secretary of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), the union which represents some of the bauxite workers in Linden, said that he was unaware that the Ministry of Finance has provisions in place for the overtime incentive.
“We were told after the announcement that this is not something that could just happen it has to be sanctioned by parliament,” Joseph told GINA.
Joseph added he will now actively pursue securing the incentive for bauxite workers. “I never knew that if we had approached the finance ministry we could have that in place. I would have done so a long time ago,” Joseph explained.
Bauxite workers were afforded tax free overtime for a number of years but in 2007 the previous administration had disallowed the provision. Minister Harmon had said that the restoration of the benefit was part of the present administration’s efforts to correct what was deemed a “punitive measure” by the former administration.