by Eulana Weekes
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Frontline workers in St. Kitts and Nevis are expected to receive honarariums at the end of October 2022 as an appreciation for their dedicated service to the country during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Terrance Drew said the Ministry of Finance has been collecting data to process the payments of honorariums.
“We did some initiatives to relieve the financial burden of the people here [in] St.Kitts and Nevis for COVID. As you know, we are going to pay the honorarium by the end of this month. The Ministry of Finance is presently collecting the data. They are going through the process for some time now and so we want to be able to pay that honorarium. That honorarium is being paid to frontline workers.”
The Prime Minister said that it is the duty of his Government to compensate the frontline workers; upholding the campaign promise of the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party. Dr. Drew explained that the frontline workers, some of whom were living in fear, showed up to work in the best interest of the country and must be shown appreciation. He said that is separate and apart from working overtime.
“You can’t really pay them for that risk, but if you can show an appreciation for what they were doing, that would go a long way. Drew stated”
He added “If you were working as a nurse for example and you worked overtime, that’s overtime. That has nothing to do within your honorarium to say thank you for standing up and putting yourself for the country.”
The Statutory Rules and Orders (SR&O) Number 38 of 2021 Part II Section 4 states “For the purposes of these Regulations, an “essential worker” includes essential officers of (a) the Royal Saint Christopher and Nevis Police Force; (b) the Saint Christopher and Nevis Defence Force; (c) the Fire and Rescue Services Department; (d) National Emergency Management Agency and Nevis Disaster Management Department, the National Emergency Operating Centre, the Health Emergency Operating Centre and any other Disaster Management Services; (e) the prisons, correctional facilities, or other similar establishments; (f) any hospital, health care or medical facility; (g) the Customs Department; (h) the Immigration Department; (i) the Air and Sea Ports Authorities; (j) the essential media personnel of a Media House; (k) the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Attorney General’s Chambers, Members of Parliament, the Secretary to the Cabinet; (l) the emergency technical personnel of any water, electricity or other sector encompassing the provision of electronic communications including print and electronic media; (m) the Government Printery; (n) approved hotels or approved quarantine facilities; (o) approved COVID-19 taxi operators; and (p) approved COVID-19 ferry operators.”
Individuals who previously received honorariums do not qualify for payment; these include members of the National COVID-19 Task Force.
In addition, Prime Minister Drew said gratuitous payment will be put in place for individuals who were terminated from their jobs for not taking the vaccine.
“We also have the gratuitous payment for those who lost their job because they did not take a [COVID-19] vaccine. It’s very specific; those who did not take a vaccine and as a result, lost their jobs. We are saying that they should have been given what was due unto them. There are some institutions that would have taken the opportunity I think at that time to say “well, we’ll give you your severance pay,” but there are a subset of workers who lost their jobs because they did not take a vaccine and that definition is very specific and as a result we have said we will start to put in place a gratuitous payment for those persons.”
The Prime Minister also shared the Government’s intention to pay the COVID-19 Compliance Officers; some of whom were relieved of duty when the country began to rebound.
Drew said, “We have also sought to pay the former COVID-19 Compliance Officers. There are a number of officers who went around telling you to put on your mask and so forth. Now that COVID-19 has come to an end, many of them would have been sent home and I took the decision as the Minister of National Security, Minister of Health and Finance and said, “look, we cannot just send home these persons like that and so we are seeking to reposition them so that they can continue to be employed. So, we really wanted to make sure that our people are taken care of.”