Sugar housing probe - Agriculture ministry to investigate claims that workers are not being paid
Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
The Ministry of Agriculture has signalled its intention to begin a probe into allegations of non-payment of salaries and abusive treatment of workers associated with the construction of 88 houses for sugar workers in Springfield, Clarendon.
The houses are being built as part of the European Union-funded Sugar Barracks Relocation Project but for months reports have surfaced that some workers are being paid long after they work and complaints are met by silence from their employers.
Last week, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Donovan Stanberry, indicated that the ministry has received adverse complaints and will initiate a probe.
Stanberry told The Sunday Gleaner that Seal Construction Company Ltd (SCCL) was awarded the contract to do the infrastructure for the houses. However, SCCL subcontracted the project to three regional contractors.
"We do not employ anyone directly. We employ a contractor and they employ people. I can't speak to their relationship with their workers but I will say that we have received complaints and we have some concerns," said Stanberry as he distanced the ministry from the non-payment of salaries to workers.
"Any reports regarding monies owed, we have nothing to do with that. The ministry has been paying the claims sent to us. I think we only have one right now. But we have been getting complaints from workers and suppliers."
Efforts to get a comment from officials of SCCL were unsuccessful, while the ministry was unable to confirm the subcontractors, who reportedly include persons with close links to the governing People's National Party.