Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 5th 2016 Contents A2
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt June 5, 2016
RHONDA KRYSTAL RAMBALLY
Joanette Pariag has always been
a woman of indomitable spirit. As
a single mother she did everything
to nurture and protect her only
Ten years ago she beamed with joy
and pride when Jade took centre stage
and topped the Secondary Entrance
Assessment (SEA), beating thousands
of other pupils islandwide.
Pariag, 54, knew her daughter was
destined for greatness, more so aca-
demic greatness. But as fate would
have it, the smooth journey she had
anticipated for her daughter s edu-
cational pursuits would be interrupted
by the sudden loss of her job as a
That meant she would no longer
receive the salary which she com-
fortably lived on for years. Pariag did
not want to disclose the amount.
In March, she was terminated from
steel manufacturing giant Arcelor-
Mittal in Point Lisas, a company to
which she dedicated 36 years of her
life and years of monthly contributions
towards her pension plan. She became
a permanent worker in 1981.
The impact is still real almost 90
days after receiving her termination
letter on what was perhaps the most
difficult day of her life---March 11.
She said: "It s still a shock for me.
It is not a nice feeling after 36 years
waking up and you know you can t
get dressed for your job."
Lately she said she doesn t know
has been hard to find. She worked
for a short period in April at a parts
shop but it didn t work out. And while
she has accepted that she will not
receive the salary she previously
worked for, she said she was willing
to work for half of what she got since
"half a loaf was better none."
"I just need a breakthrough out
there," she added. While she is not
the holder of a degree, Pariag said
her experience "speaks for me."
She worships at the Riversdale
Presbyterian Church regularly and
speaks with her priest to get some
comfort during her dark moments.
There she is vice-chairman of the
Local Board and a member of the
Not giving up at 54
While Pariag has struggled to
remain positive and strong during
the past weeks, her daughter has been
grappling to deal with the life changes.
Jade, now 21, completed her third
year at university in March. She s
pursuing a Bachelor of Medicine and
Bachelor of Surgery at the University
of the West Indies, Mt Hope. But the
news of her mother s termination in
early March took a toll on her, forcing
her to temporarily withdraw for six
She s hoping to find a job before
she returns in September. The with-
drawal was a decision that had to be
taken because of the finances that
needed to be expended monthly, cou-
pled with the fact that Jade felt she
needed to be at her mother s side to
support her during her own struggles.
Mother and daughter live in a fam-
ily home in Williamsville. Despite
how Jade feels, she s been supportive
and understanding. Pariag said when
she told Jade that some former co-
workers could not even afford to take
their children for pizza or ice-cream,
she said she was deeply saddened.
Since March, Pariag has been job
hunting but said it has proven to be
extremely hard. However, she is not
prepared to give up despite her age.
been dropping off my resume to dif-
ferent companies but I have not
received any feedback."
"It has been really challenging,"
she said during an interview with the
Sunday Guardian on Corpus Christi
Day from her Williamsville home.
Thankfully, she said she owns her
vehicle and does not have to pay a
house mortgage or rent.
"But Jade s rent was like a mort-
gage, you know. As a med student
you need textbooks that aren t cheap
and soon she will need a vehicle to
go on rotations at the hospital. I was
spending close to $5,000 a month
for her upkeep."
She thanked her family for the sup-
port they have offered.
'I feel I disappointed
After Pariag and her husband sep-
arated, she said she promised to be
Jade s pillar of strength and to never
let her down.
"But I feel like I ve disappointed
her," she said.
As a mother, all she wanted was
to see Jade go through university with-
out any hiccups but it did not work
out that way.
"I have been crying all week. I am
a single parent. There s no father
around so all sustenance for my
daughter comes from God and me.
I am the only force behind her."
She said Jade could not focus dur-
ing the semester. They had to give
up the $2,400 apartment.
Jade has since signed up for On-
The-Job-Training but the process has
been taking longer than normal. For
the past two July/August vacations
she worked as a trainee in a hospital.
Despite the ordeal, Jade aced her
Pariag is keeping her fingers crossed
and praying fervently. She is hoping
the time off from university will allow
Jade to refocus.
She said: "To go back, that is a
must. I don t know how, but God is
good and we will find a way."
Pariag said she saved as much as
she could but now every dollar mat-
tered since she was dipping into her
But the thing with savings is that
without a job, nothing goes back in.
"Thank God I saved when I could
but I have to watch it with a cut eye.
I am not putting anything back in so
you can imagine," she said.
With the job loss came many cut-
backs for Pariag---no social events like
going to the mall, movies and occa-
sional shopping for Jade. Even items
on the grocery list had to be cut.
"I just woke one morning and
found out that after 36 years I did
not have a job," she said.
She felt perhaps ArcelorMittal
would have retrenched its workers
instead of terminate or at least provide
them with a package.
She said: "We never thought about
insolvency and liquidation. It never
crossed our minds."
Some of her former co-workers
have found temporary, mediocre jobs
while others remain jobless.
"Can I at least get my back my
own contribution? I don t want to be
a millionaire. I am a contented person.
We don t live the high life."
Jade: I'll buy mom whatever
she wants when I'm a doctor
When Jade spoke with the Sunday
Guardian on Friday, she was upbeat
Recalling ten years ago when she
won first place in the SEA, she said
a reporter had asked her what she
wanted to become and she said a
"I didn t even know what it meant
but I wanted to be that," she said.
Right now, she s undecided about
the area of speciality.
While preparing for the SEA, Jade
said she wanted to attend Naparima
Girls High School and that it was
never her aim to capture the spotlight
with first place.
Remembering the day of results,
she said: "I thought I had failed the
exam because my name was not
"And then finally the news broke.
It was a great feeling."
She found out about her mom s
job loss through Facebook. She called
her mother and asked if the news
was true and she said yes.
"She told me what she always says
which is don t worry, go and study
your work," Jade said.
Describing herself as a simple per-
son, Jade said she and her mom will
get through together.
"I will graduate and start earning
a salary and I will buy mom whatever
She laughed and said her mom
wanted an air-condition unit in the
"She always get upset and says
it s so hot and why these people
(ArcelorMittal) can t give her her
money so she can buy it."
When she returns in September,
she begins rotations but her concern
is getting enough money to buy text-
books which cost close to $6,000.
But she said they ll cross that bridge
when it comes.
Staying optimistic, Jade said a
close friend told her that getting a
degree was not a race.
"There seems to be this view that
if you start at a certain time you
must complete the programme at a
certain time but it won t make me
any less of a doctor than someone
who did it in one shot."
Aftermath of ArcelorMittal closure
Mom struggles to help
daughter finish med studies
FLASHBACK 2006: Jade Pariag, 11, centre, of Brothers Presbyterian
School, Williamsville, with her classmates. Pariag and Jesse Benjamin
topped the country in the SEA exams, scoring 99 per cent.
Close to 100 of the 644
workers were yesterday
remunerated for their pen-
sion plan contributions. The
workers who were remuner-
ated were those with less
than five years service.
According to second vice
president of the Steel Workers
Union Ramkumar Nari-
nesingh, several of the workers
took to the union s internal
social media page and posted
about how grateful they were
to receive their money.
The monies were distrib-
uted into their accounts by
Republic Bank as the financial
institution was appointed
trustees with the insurance
called on both Government
and the bank to extend the
same courtesy to those who
were close to retirement and
had over 20 years of service
"What now has to happen
is that their situation has to
be treated with a level of pri-
ority towards alleviating their
suffering. The feedback is as
expected, that they cannot get
jobs at their ages; some are
ailing," said Narinesingh.
On a positive note, he said
the companies liquidators
have indicated that they are
looking towards settling a
number of the industrial mat-
ters before the courts.
Matters such as promotions
and warning letters have been
deemed no longer viable with
the closure of the company,
"It appears to be so, an
indication they are dealing
with outstanding matters with
a view to settle. That s all I
will say. It appears so," he said.
He said workers have
brought forward supportive
letters from the attorneys rep-
resenting the liquidators and
company. As for the future of
the workforce, Narinesingh
said they have maintained
communications with the
He also said the union has
assisted in setting up small
companies offering carpentry
and electrical services and
were sourcing jobs for its
"We are making sure we
remain a viable entity for the
employees," he added.
See Page A5
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