NIB employees protest
Scores of National Insurance Board (NIB) employees yesterday demanded an improvement in work conditions as they protested outside its headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.
Among other issues, the Union of Public Officers (UPO), which represents NIB’s 400 line staff, is concerned with unfair hiring practices, stagnated industrial agreement negotiations and delayed issuance in benefits.
UPO President Marvin Duncombe said, “We want to send a message very clear to all those who are responsible for the National Insurance Board that we are sick and tired of the way that [the] National Insurance Board has been operating.
“Over the last several months, we’ve seen a decline in the morale of our people because it seems as if everything that’s made continues to be a mistake. Three years ago, they introduced the V3 system, [which is] the insurance administration system that has been broken [since] it was introduced.”
He added, “The system can’t continue to work right now. Our people cannot get their benefits. They can’t get their maternity benefits on time. They take up to three weeks… four weeks, five weeks, sometimes eight weeks to get one claim. It’s because of our broken system. We continue to work with it and yet as it comes to compensation, they refuse to give us anything as it relates to compensation because they see us as a mistake.”
The union’s industrial agreement, which was signed in July 2016, expired last year.
Duncombe said the union has been negotiating a new agreement with the management of NIB “over the last six weeks and we have been having some wonderful discussions”.
He also accused the director of NIB of not operating in good faith.
“We have put an offer on the table which they have taken off, very disingenuously,” Duncombe said.
NIB Director Dr. Nicola Virgil-Rolle declined to comment, only saying, “I am limited in what I can say because we are currently in industrial negotiations with our line staff union and so we have elected not to negotiate in the public.”
Duncombe said the union will request a strike poll next week if its concerns are not met.
“We will do something more intense at a later date and we will be seeking to get the attention of the people who are in charge,” he said.
“If we cannot get them to come with a decent and reasonable offer on the table then certainly we will be filing for our strike certificate.”
The union president said NIB’s line staff will demonstrate again today.
“I’m not playing with this,” he said.
“You cannot treat us as if we are illegitimate children.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice