San Fernando mayor Robert Parris –
San Fernando Mayor Robert Parris has offered to donate half of his salary to help pay outstanding wages to a small group of casual workers for work done since May.
One of the workers, Monifa Charles, 36, of Marabella, said she was hired along with four others to clean drains in Bel Air for five days by Marabella East councillor Kern Ramdin. She said they are yet to be paid some $1,100 each. She visited Newsday’s San Fernando bureau on Thursday to complain about not being paid.
Ramdin told Newsday the previous mayor asked him to submit names of workers through his secretary, which he did. Once this was done, he said, the matter was out of his hands.
“She does send it up to the mayor’s and them does work them…I don’t know what they does do, what the nature of the job is they’re doing,” he said.
Inheriting the issue, Parris said the work was done during the period that work was suspended, ahead of the Local Government Election. He said due to miscommunication, the work was done without the necessary approvals.
Because of this, he said he could not use public funds from the corporation to pay the workers.
However, being a councillor himself, he said he understands the pressures Ramdin is under and is willing to assist him despite wearing a different political hat.
“He would have made a mistake, and anyone is entitled to make a mistake. So the councillor called me yelling, saying that he felt his life was endangered because the people kept coming to his office and his home threatening him.
“I have been around long enough to remember councillor Bert Allyette in Port of Spain, who tragically lost his life in circumstances serving his community regarding providing labour.”
He said he is willing to donate half of his salary toward paying the workers if Ramdin can come up with the rest of the money.
“I felt it was the best and a noble gesture to help him out of what he described as a dangerous situation. I know how difficult it is as councillors.”
Ramdin told Newsday he is not open to this idea as he does not believe the error lies with him as he did what was requested.
“I have real bills to cover too. I have children to send to school. I have a business running, I can’t just take up my money just so. That’s something new on me. So every time something go wrong, I come like I putting myself in a situation,” he said.
“Because them (the city corporation) make a mistake, I have to pay them (the workers)? That’s what he telling me there, you know.”
Parris said he believes if the UNC had a leader of business who understood the system to communicate with him and the administration, the matter could have been avoided.
“It is unfortunate, and I hope we will find a way to move forward with the business of serving the citizens of San Fernando despite our political difference.”