National Insurance Corporation (NIC) employees stayed off the job for a second day, Wednesday.
On April 4, NIC employees downed their tools over the failure on the part of management to agree to meet their demands.
Loop News has been reliably informed that the National Workers Union (NWU) bargaining agents for the employees failed to meet the management of the NIC Tuesday in a bid to address the situation.
The two entities have been engaged in negotiation since last year.
They last met on March 30, 2023, when the NIC advanced new proposals.
In a letter to the employees dated April 3, the NIC said, “The objective of the collective bargaining process is to agree to terms and conditions of work for staff through dialogue and compromise. In negotiating with the Union, NIC is mindful of the need to balance the interests of our staff with those of our contributors who have entrusted us with the enormous responsibility of managing and protecting their current and future
pensions and other entitlements.”
Regarding salaries, the NWU proposes that the NIC provide an across-the-board wage increase of 12% and increase the starting salary for Grade 1 staff to $2000.
In the spirit of compromise, the NIC has shifted twice from its original position of 4.5% and has proposed two options.
A general increase of 5.5% plus an increase in the percentage of the health insurance premium paid by NIC to 60% with the corresponding reduction of the percentage paid by staff to 40%
A general increase of 6% plus the split for health insurance premiums remaining at 55% (employer) and 45% employee.
All adjustments to the respective grades, such as the proposal for a minimum $2000 starting salary for Grade 1, can only be addressed in the context of a salary review exercise, preparations for which are currently underway.
The NIC also has agreed to provide four neckties per uniform cycle to male staff as requested by the NWU.
In addition, the NWU propose that all IT officers be designated Traveling Officers. However, the NIC argues that IT employees do not frequently travel for work to be considered travelling officers.
Other issues include laundry allowance, scholarship and training opportunities, and vehicle loans for staff.
Meanwhile, customers are affected and cannot receive their NIC claims which some people depend on.
“‘It’s been two weeks since I claimed sick leave benefits from the NIC, and no refund has come through. Employers no longer pay your full salary and wait for a refund from the NIC, which was done in the past. Now an employee has to wait up to a month to receive sick leave benefits, which is essentially that part of your monthly income not covered by your employer when you are genuinely ill. Imagine certain bills being unpaid because you are waiting weeks for that part of your salary that normally covers these monthly expenses. Already this process takes weeks under normal circumstances. Imagine the undue stress it’s causing now that they’ve downed their tools with seemingly no end in sight,” a female NIC customer told Loop News.
A press release from the NIC Tuesday said, “We have been trying and are continuing to try to contact the worker’s bargaining agent, the NWU, to determine what is happening. As of the time of writing, we have had no communication from the Union. Regretfully, we have had to suspend our service to the public until the situation is resolved. NIC deeply regrets the inconvenience caused to our valued customers and thanks you for your patience and understanding.”