Salary cuts at Western Parks and Market irk councillorsFriday, May 14, 2021
WESTMORELAND, Jamaica – Councillors at the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation (WMC) are questioning the salary cuts, some as big as 50 per cent, of staff employed to Western Parks and Market (WPM), an arm of the National Solid Waste Management (NSWMA).
Speaking at Thursday's regular monthly meeting of the WMC, Leona Bennett, the senior public cleansing inspector at WPM, stated that due to financial constraints the transfer station that has been requested by the Corporation for the parish has been put on hold, adding that staff in all departments, have been given a salary cut.
Deputy Mayor and Councillor for the Bethel Town Division, Danree Delancy enquired if all the employees at WPM have received the same percentage pay cut.
“I have been informed that the sweepers' hours have been cut from eight hours to four hours. So, if sweepers get a 50 per cent pay cut, has the management also taken a 50 per cent pay cut?” the People's National Party councillor asked.
In response, Bennett stated that she could not share the numbers but assured that no group has been untouched. She added that the percentage of salary reduction received by each staff is based on the department they work in and their job description.
“While the sweepers can get their jobs done in four hours, the truck drivers cannot. So it depends on their [job description],” she stated.
But Delancy insisted that the corporation needs to know what the pay cuts are across the board.
“Bearing in mind that property taxes increase, yet NSWMA is saying they cannot find the money, and we are cutting the poor sweeper by 50 per cent, we want to know what level of salary cuts the management [of NSWMA] will be experiencing. We want to see if it is really a pay cut or if it is just semantics,” he argued.
He questioned whether the pay cut for the sweepers is not a breach of the labour laws.
“Now that [the workers] have received a 50 per cent pay cut, will the job now be seen as a part time job, or full time job? And if it is a full time job, will this bring them below the minimum wage? Because if so, this will be a breach,” he posited.
“I would like to once again call upon the authority for the [NSWMA] to rethink cutting these poor workers' salaries by 50 per cent and rethink their position to not establish the transfer station in Westmoreland.”
PNP councillor for the Leamington Division Cebert McFarlane expressed similar sentiments.
“In this pandemic, how can you cut the use of the workers who are needed in this pandemic. There are so many masks being disposed [improperly]. Masks can be potentially contaminated, and these workers have to be out there dealing with these and we are cutting their pay? I don't believe there should be a pay cut. I think it is unfortunate. The [NSWMA] needs to explain why the salary cuts, they are not getting less revenue as we are not seeing a decline in property tax,” he argued.
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) councillor for the Mountain Division Dawnette Foster stated that, “cutting someone's pay in half is really, really bad during this pandemic.”
It was earlier reported by WMC's director of finance, Marcine Black-Jackson that there was an increase in property tax collection for last financial year when compared to the previous year.
She reported that during the financial year 2020-2021 some $509,262,164 was collected compared to $411,601,090 during the previous year.
A portion of property taxes collected is disbursed to the NSWMA for the collection of solid waste.
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