NIB workers protest outside 50th anniversary cocktail reception

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Some of the disgruntled workers who protested while the cocktail reception was in progress. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Workers of the National Insurance Board (NIB) protested outside the cocktail reception held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the company. The event was held on the rooftop of the NIB building, Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain, on Friday, while the protesters demonstrated on the street.

The workers, members of the NIB section committee, said they were protesting that the celebration was being held while there was a settled collective agreement in limbo, which was not approved by Finance Minister Colm Imbert who was in attendance. He is acting as prime minister while Dr Rowley is out of the country.

When approached for comment, Imbert said, “I wouldn’t speak to you, and they know that. Newsday has a 20-year ban with me, and they know why too.”

Finance Minister and acting Prime Minister Colm Imbert speaks with NIB chairman Patrick Ferreira at the NIB’s 50th anniversary cocktail reception, at Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain on Friday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

Committee chairman Kellon Wallace said, “They’re having a cocktail party and the workers were not invited nor aware.

“We weren’t given anything other than a polo shirt for our 50th anniversary while we have a settled, registered, signed collective agreement for 2014-2016 which is not being given approval by the same Finance Minister who is in attendance, even though the board had the money to pay us. So we’re still out here on 2013 salaries even though we know we’re supposed to get an increase.”

When told of the protest, NIB chairman Patrick Ferreira said, “It’s not just a cocktail party, it’s a 50th anniversary – it’s a milestone in the organisation and we thought it fit to have it. The matter that’s going on with them, we don’t know much about it. The issue with the collective agreement is in court, so there’s not much we can say about it, because it would be inappropriate for me to talk about something in the court system. But everyone is entitled to their right to demonstrate.”

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