Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 16th 2014 Contents A12
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, August 16, 2014
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Saran Sampath Ltd
The Grassroots Foundation has collected
over 2,000 signatures from workers in the
Unemployment Relief Programme (URP)
and the Community-Based Environmental
Protection and Enhancement Programme
(CEPEP), for presentation to Prime Min-
ister Kamla Persad Bissessar in support
of a call for salary increases.
Revealing the foundation s plan to launch
a "Bugle Call" shortly as it moves from
community to community to meet with
residents on this and other issues, chairman
David John said his group also intends to
ensure the electorate is fully aware of the
impact that constitutional reform will have
on the population.
Addressing reporters during a briefing at
Raphael s Plaza, Arouca, on Thursday, John
spoke of the disparity in salaries for the
current group of URP and CEPEP workers,
compared to 24 years ago.
He explained that in 1990, labourers under
the Labour Intensive Development Pro-
gramme (LIDP) received $766.70 fortnightly,
when the oil price stood at $13 per barrel.
"The economy was in total shambles
then," John said, adding that former prime
minister Patrick Manning changed the name
to URP in 1992 and cut salaries by $200,
bringing it down to $565 a fortnight.
In 1993, when the price of oil increased
to $160 per barrel, salaries were not
Although the People s Partnership Gov-
ernment raised salaries to $690 a fortnight
in 2012, John said this was still not enough.
"The economy is very healthy and these
workers are still working for less money
than they were receiving 24 years ago."
Claiming that this "could never be right,"
John said the foundation chose to represent
these workers because they were not
unionised, nor did they have any organisation
to clearly articulate on their behalf.
A week after the results of the Caribbean
Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) exam-
inations were posted online, principals have
been told they can collect preliminary results
slips at their respective education district
offices on Monday.
In a release yesterday, the Ministry of Edu-
cation said distribution of the slips will begin
at 10 am.
The CSEC results were released online on
August 12, whilst the Caribbean Advanced Pro-
ficiency Exam (CAPE) results were released
online on August 10.
The CAPE results slips arrived in the country
on Tuesday, after which principals collected
them on Wednesday for distribution to students.
Although students were able to access their
CSEC results online, many were awaiting the
slips before exploring tertiary-level opportuni-
The results slips are prepared by the Caribbean
Examination Council (CXC) in Barbados and
sent to individual countries to be given to stu-
Education Ministry staff said the analysis of
the results of both exams will be completed
within a week of the results being released.
• Caroni: Camden Court, Couva
• North Eastern: Savi Street,
Boodooville, Sangre Grande
• Port-of-Spain and Environs:
• St George East: El Dorado Road,
• St Patrick: Farah Street, San Fernando
• South Eastern: 87 High Street, Rio
• Victoria: Laughlin & De Gannes
Building, Sutton Street, San Fernando
• Tobago: Dutch Fort Plaza, Milford Road,
EDUCATION DISTRICT OFFICES
Grassroots body taking petition to PM...
CEPEP, URP workers
want better wages
Grassroots Foundation chairman David John holds up a petition during a press conference
at Raphael's Plaza, Eastern Main Road, Arouca, on Thursday. At left is field officer Quessa
Thomas. PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
Contacted on the issue, CEPEP
chairman Adesh Deonarine
said the organisation had
requested an increase in the
budgetary allocation for the
2014/2015 fiscal year.
"We have always respected
the rights of workers and we
are always clamouring for
better conditions and
improved salaries for them."
Revealing that it had received
just over $400 million in the
2013/2014 budget---a huge
shortfall from the $720 million
which had been requested---
Deonarine said his
organisation was not
responsible for salary
Adding that it continued to
operate on subventions from
the Finance Ministry,
Deonarine said the CEPEP
Company Ltd had submitted a
document to Housing and
Development Minister Dr
Roodal Moonilal outlining its
requests for the year ahead.
"We appreciate the hard work
done by these employees in
protecting and maintaining the
environment," he said.
CEPEP BOSS SUPPORTS CALL
John said after a meeting with hundreds of
workers two weeks ago, a motion will be
presented to Persad-Bissessar and Finance
Minister Larry Howai in time for the 2015
budget, outlining the proposed salary
Also calling for the restructuring of the URP
programme, John referred to the current
system as a "sophisticated dole" which
mimicked the European model where people
are paid whilst sleeping at home. Admitting he
was "aware that this is happening here and
now," John said changes must be made to the
current structure to ensure transparency and
"Apart from the salary increases, we believe
the URP programme has to be restructured to
increase productivity, because if you ask for
money you must produce in return and that is
what the Grassroots Foundation is asking for,"
Pointing out that it was LIDT workers who
were responsible for constructing all the
Priority Bus Route malls, which were still
standing 24 years later, John said, "It is not
that people cannot produce, they must be
given incentives to produce."
Holding a copy of a newspaper story in which
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley claimed
the Government was spending too much
money on URP and CEPEP programmes, John
said private-sector organisations were also
calling for Government to cut back on funding
for social programmes and to increase funding
being spent on national security measures.
"I find that totally ridiculous, because if you cut
back on funding for social programmes you
will really have to pump more money into
national security, because crime will go up," he
The foundation's field officer Quessa Thomas
said with no existing facilities for URP and
CEPEP workers, it was difficult for them to
perform at their maximum potential. She too
called for improved working conditions for all
workers, saying they were not poor, but rather
underprivileged. Promising that production
would increase if they were given proper
working conditions and salaries, Thomas said
it was this same group of people on the
ground who were "doing the hardest work."
Confident that Persad-Bissessar would help,
Thomas said the foundation was now the
voice for the people who previously felt
unrepresented and sidelined.
On another note, John said the foundation was
in agreement with Government on the issue of
Denying any political affiliation, he said the
foundation intends to begin weekly meetings
soon, as it seeks to "explain to the people the
concept of constitutional reform and its
relevance in layman's terms and language so
everybody in society can understand what is
on the table as far as the Government is
concerned." The first meeting will take place in
Sangre Grande, with subsequent meetings to
be held in communities along the East-West
PROPOSAL FOR HOWAI SOON
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