July pay hikes for Tobago URP and Cepep workers

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

CEPEP workers cut grass near Back Bay, Black Rock. FILE PHOTO –

Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) and Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (Cepep) workers in Tobago will benefit from pay increases from next month.

The announcement was made at Wednesday’s post-Executive Council media briefing by officials from the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development (DIQUD) and the Division of Community Development, Youth Development and Sport.

DIQUD Assistant Secretary Joel Sampson said the assembly is hoping to improve the lives of URP daily-rated workers. He said that particular attention is being paid to the terms and conditions under which the workers are employed. He said the amendments will take effect from July 14 and will include a number of benefits.

“The intent is to close gaps or remove disparity as much as we can.”

Sampson said the executive council has approved the adjustment of wages paid to the workers and the introduction of certain leave entitlement.

DIQUD Assistant Secretary Joel Sampson – THA

“This step is deemed necessary to erase dubious job titles, overlapping of responsibilities, streamlining of operations, improving morales and enabling the earning of living wage. This action is viewed as a positive step which should lead to an improvement in the lives and social conditions of our workers.”

He said currently, there are three types of labourers: male labourer, female labourer and unskilled labourer, who are paid $79 per day.

“The new title for these three areas is now called unskilled labourer and the proposed wage for this title is $149 per day.”

The title of trade assistant II will be changed to trade assistant II/ timekeeper, environment and women’s programme. He said the current pay is $85 per day, while the proposed wage is $160 per day.

Trade assistants III will also be changed to trade assistants III/construction workers. The current wage is $93 per day, and the proposed wage is $156 per day. The area foreman would be changed to light equipment operator with a proposed wage of $156 per day from the current $106 per day.

“There is also the site foreman; the new title would go to site foreman on construction projects. The current wage for this is $99 per day – the proposed age is now $165 per day. There are two areas of charge hand; one of these areas would now go to charge hand construction. Tthe current wage for that is $181 per day – the proposed wage is now $231 per day. The other area of chargehand now goes to circulatory charge hand; the current wage is $181 per day – the proposed wage is now $241 per day.”

He said drivers title remains the same but a $50 increase is proposed from the current wage of $170 per day. The tradesman title also remains the same, this includes carpenters, painters, mason, plumbers, steel benders, upholsterers, cabinet makers, polishers, joiners, finishers and chainsaw operators. There current wage is $166 per day, which now goes to a proposed wage of $216 per day.

“Approval has also been granted for the URP workers to be deemed eligible for two weeks’ vacation leave with pay annually, 14 days’ sick leave annually, four days’ paternity leave at or about the time of delivery each time a spouse give birth, three bereavements leave upon the death of an immediate family member.”

Maternity leave remains at 14 weeks under the Maternity Protection Act, he said.

Secretary of Community Development Terance Baynes also gave an update on pay increases for Cepep workers.

Secretary of Community Development Terance Baynes – THA

At a previous news conference, Baynes said Cepep had become top heavy, and restructuring was necessary to ensure it achieves its objectives. The restructuring of the programme has affected 14 workers, all in management positions.

He said while the restructuring is still taking place, the executive council has agreed that labourers’ pay would be improved form $99 per day to $149.19 – a $50 increase.

“The semi-skilled worker who was making $145.48 would now move to $195.48. The checker who was making $155.39 would now move to $205.39. The foreman who was making $165.39 would now make $215.31.”

These changes, he said, would take effect from July 4.

He said they are also “expeditiously working” on improving the benefits.

He said 548 Cepep workers will benefit from the new arrangement

“The current fortnightly wage bill is $765,449.70. With the addition, it moves to $1.6 million.”