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Calm Returns To NIC Offices

Employee Grouses Finally Resolved.

THE atmosphere at the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) appears to be much improved than it was three months ago when employees staged 12 days of industrial action that forced the Corporation’s management to come to the bargaining table to review a number of outstanding issues.

The main grouses of employees have been taken care of, according to both the National Workers Union, the employees bargaining agent, and the Corporation. The main bone of contention was the incompletion of talks on a collective bargaining agreement for the 2012-2014 and 2015-2017 trienniums, but this has now been settled.

Not only have the new industrial contracts been signed but workers have received retroactive payments of seven percent for the 2012-2014 triennium, and an additional two percent salary increase for the 2015-2017 triennium, according to the Corporation.

The NWU said the retroactive payments will be effective from January 1, 2012.

Of note is an increase of $5000, from $75,000 to $80,000 in the maximum loan available to travelling officers for the purchase of vehicles in pursuance of their duties.

Employees will also be seeing improvements in the shift premium for security officers, compassionate leave, subsistence allowance for overseas travel and basic travel allowance for travelling officers.

In addition, supervisors were reinstated as part of the collective bargaining unit.

Members of the public who relied on the NIC for services, suffered during the 12 days of industrial action that started over a delay in the provision of uniforms. By the end of the first week of protestations, more reasons were added by staff for their actions that had escalated into a firestorm of protestation.

NIC Director Matthew Mathurin found himself under pressure from employees and the NWU to ‘change his attitude’ to them which, they claimed, would go a long way in resolving the dispute with the Corporation.

In fact, the NWU demanded a guarantee from Mathurin that his ‘attitude’ would change or else they would call for his removal.

In the end, and after progress on 23 items outside of wages that employees had a problem with, the collective agreements have been signed.

Both sides have agreed to work together towards the full realization of the industrial package. The signing of the contracts was done in the presence of the officials from the Ministry of Labour.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

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