The chairman of the Public Services Association (PSA), St Ann’s Hospital section, Preston George, is calling on its president Watson Duke to apologise to eight retired PSA pensioners who are awaiting arrears and gratuity benefits due to them for over a decade.
George challenged Duke to apologise to the pensioners, six of whom are elderly women struggling financially to survive during this pandemic.
Originally, there were nine pensioners, but one passed away not too long ago.
George said it was high time the pensioners’ payments be settled so they could live comfortably and enjoy their twilight years.
Collectively, George said, the pensioners are owed over $500,000.
A calculation of one pensioner showed she is currently owed $76,252,80 in benefits.
Also, she is entitled to a monthly pension of $1,906.32.
In a letter dated July 6, 2020, Duke advised attorney Keron Maynard representing the pensioners that PSA was diligently pursuing a resolution of this historical matter.
“We have finally received the revised calculations,” Duke stated in his letter, promising to bring the matter to a close before July 31, 2020.
By August, George said, the PSA kept lingering with the issue and Maynard was instructed by his clients to take legal action.
But the PSA asked Maynard for more time.
Almost a year later, George said, the payments have stalled.
The pensioners completed their terms of employment with the PSA and retired at various times over the period 2010 to 2018.
At the time of their retirements, salary negotiations were ongoing for the periods 2008 to 2010 and 2011 to 2013.
The PSA’s agreed practice is that, on completion and implementation of these new salaries, employees, including retired employees to whom they apply are paid their salary.
Also, retired employees are paid revised pension and gratuity benefits based on the new salary settled.
George said while these pensioners have not received a cent, a $521,000 in pension payments was given to Duke in 2019—who had promised to resign but did not.
Duke’s matter remains an active police investigation by the Fraud Squad.
“We the members of the PSA are calling on Duke to apologise to the pensioners who have been waiting in vain for years for their monies,” George said yesterday, during a telephone interview with Guardian Media.
He said the treatment meted out to the pensioners was tantamount to disrespect and neglect.
George said all unions should condemn Duke’s action.
“Your pension and gratuity are based on trust. You are trusting that those who you are working for could have your monies safe when you retire so you could live a fairly comfortable life in your senior years. But these pensioners are feeling cheated. They have been deprived of what is rightfully due to them. It clearly shows a breach of trust.
“It is clear the PSA do not want to pay these pensioners at all. This is what it boils down to. But I have no intention of leaving this matter undone,” George said.
Duke failed to respond to WhatsApp messages sent to him yesterday.