PSA rejects WASA’s VSEP
By Sasha Harrinanan Saturday, August 4 2012
The Public Services Association (PSA) has rejected Water and Sewerage Authority’s (WASA) offer of Voluntary Early Separation Plan (VSeP), saying monthly-paid workers deserve much more than 1.5 months for each year of employment.
Addressing the media during a press conference at the union’s headquarters on Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday, PSA President, Watson Duke, described the July 30 offer as “provocative, vexatious and somewhat annoying.”
According to Duke, the current offer does not take care of those WASA workers nearing retirement, nor does it cater for persons on the group health plan.
He also said monthly-paid workers were being offered a smaller VSeP package than their daily- paid counterparts.
“It does not take care of a whole group of persons, and to add insult to injury, it is far less than what is currently being paid as a severance package for daily-paid employees... In other words, monthly-paid are being offered six weeks per year whereas the daily-paid agreement states seven weeks per year...We love our daily-paid brothers; we stand side-by-side in the trenches but there must be some level of recognition for what monthly-paid workers are worth,” Duke stated.
The PSA president was responding to a WASA statement issued on Tuesday, July 30 last, in which the utility company said effective last month, it was offering all employees VSeP “as part of its comprehensive approach to the transformation of the organisation.” According to WASA, VSeP was one of the initiatives being implemented to restructure and realign the organisation, improve business processes, and change the work culture.
Employees who accept VSeP would benefit from a lump-sum payment based on current salary, vacation leave buy-out, enhanced pension, immediate pension for life, and life-skills training.
Additionally, employees would get transitional training in areas such as financial management, entrepreneurship, career planning, wellness and self- care.
“These interventions are aimed at creating a platform for WASA to achieve viability and operational efficiency over a five-year period,” WASA stated in the July 30 release.
Although the PSA has no objections to VSeP in principle, Duke said WASA first has to make a decent offer, in line with the ex-gratia payment agreed on by Cabinet to the out-going Commissioner of Police, Dwayne Gibbs and Deputy Commissioner of Police, Jack Ewatski.
“The PSA is convinced...the Acting Attorney General (Ganga Singh) was correct when he said the ex-gratia payment was based on future earnings, and resettlement efforts. Since he happens to be the Minister of Environment and Water Resources, I believe that thinking should be employed in the supplement of the VSeP package for WASA,” Duke said.
The PSA president is set to meet the union’s WASA Branch Monday afternoon at WASA’s head office in St Joseph to discuss the monthly-paid worker’s next move.