Former cleaning supervisor pickets ministry for unpaid vacation

Lorraine Henry, former cleaning supervisor at the Ministry of Legal Affairs, pickets to receive $4,000 owed to her since 2021
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By Elesha George

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A former cleaning supervisor at the Ministry of Legal Affairs resorted to picketing yesterday, demanding payment for more than 38 days of vacation that were approved but for which she was never paid.

Lorraine Henry applied for and was granted over a month of vacation days back in November 2021. However, despite the approval, she never received the pay. Feeling frustrated, Henry decided to take matters into her own hands and staged a picket outside the Ministry of Legal Affairs for the second time on Tuesday.

“Almost two years my vacation money still is not being processed into my account,” she told Observer.

In addition to the $3,000 she is owed, Henry said the office still owes her $1,000 in back pay for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020. She said she was the only cleaning staff who had not received her pay.

She was asked to visit the Treasury to collect her money via cheque three months ago and again last week but, according to Henry, not even her name was at the department when she inquired. Henry is convinced that the money was intentionally stopped from going into her account all those years ago.

When approached for comment, Legal Affairs Minister Steadroy Benjamin acknowledged Henry’s plight and recognised her right to protest. Minister Benjamin confirmed that Henry was indeed owed money but clarified that the Ministry of Legal Affairs was not responsible for the payment. Instead, he stated that the outstanding wages were to be released by the Treasury Department last week.

“That lady is quite entitled to what she is speaking about,” he remarked, adding, “I spoke to her last week and we’ve been promised that she would have been paid a week ago. I can understand her frustration; she’s quite justified in showing her discontent.”

He said he did not know what caused the initial delay but said that once he was made aware of it, he realised that it took too long for documents to go through the government system.

“Documents that were processed over a month and a half ago, it is now six weeks and she had not yet been able to get her monies from the Treasury – not this department but the Department of Treasury which is causing problems,” he noted.

In the meantime, Henry remains resolute in her picketing, urging the Treasury Department to expedite her payment and fulfil its obligations.

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