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Public Works Department (Employees)

Volume 440: debated on Wednesday 16 July 1947

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what pension provision is made for manual workers employed by the public works department in Tobago; whether these workers obtain regular all-the-year-round employment; and how wages paid by the public works department compare with those for similar work paid by private employers.

Manual workers employed by the public works department in Tobago, whose posts are scheduled under the Provident Fund Ordinance, are entitled on retirement to provident fund benefits. The remainder are eligible for gratuities under the regulations applicable to all daily paid employees of Government who do not contribute to the provident fund. A number of these workers are regularly employed, the remainder are employed on a casual basis as and when work is available. There are no private employers of labour in Tobago engaged on large scale building and roadmaking projects, such as are undertaken by the public works department, and a comparison with private employment is, therefore, not possible.

Will my right hon. Friend take further steps to satisfy him-self that the guaranteed week is granted in this case as far as possible in order that subsequent claims for gratuity and old age pensions shall not be invalidated because of this non-constant work?

I will look into that point, but this island, and other islands in that part of the world, suffer from under-employment and the solution is very difficult.

Will the right hon. Gentleman say what it is that brings Tobago into the news so extensively and so suddenly.