EDITORS NOTE : In the article “NLA WORKERS THREATEN INDUSTRIAL ACTION” a last minute intercessory phone call to Noel Jackson was attributed to Chairman Murray Bullock. That phone call was in fact made by General Manager Mac Gregor Sealey.

National Workers Movement boss Noel Jackson announced to Asbert News Network that the proposed talks with the management of the National Lotteries Authority – brought about by threats of industrial action – was “fairly good.”

Jackson was, at the time, providing ANN with an update on the meeting’s major outcomes. He said the meeting entailed Chairman of the Board Murray Bullock, Deputy Chair Allison Thomas, General Manager Mac Gregor Sealey, Board Rep Hugh Ragguette and representatives from the Lotteries human resources and accounting departments. Meanwhile the National Workers Movement was represented by six unnamed delegates along with the union’s chief negotiator.

“Of the two main issues,” Jackson told ANN in reference to the major grievances that forced the two entities to the brink of a staff led sick-out, “[the NLA] proposed to submit to my desk no later than March 23, their pension plan proposal. And it would seem that we’re going to have proposals galore as they indicated that the insurance brokers called yesterday offering three proposals plus they have one from Sagicor.”

The National Lotteries Authority reneged on a 19 years old promise, as published in their 2001 staff manual, which was distributed to some staff members. Under a caption ‘Staff Benefits,’ the NLA committed to “make provisions to ensure the long term security and welfare of its employees through fringe benefits such as life and medical insurance and pension. Particulars on such benefits will be supplied by management and or the respective agents handling such matters.”

Although formal communications between both entities were not forthcoming informal exchanges occurred time to time. On one such occasion, Jackson told ANN last Monday night, a member of the senior management team complained that their insurance brokers were responsible for the delayed pension plan roll out. To this Jackson said he replied, “well fire the brokers and get somebody else!”

Thursday’s negotiations got started at 10 a.m. and sought, in part, to rectify “anomalies where remuneration was concerned.” Jackson again told ANN, “the proposal for the reclassification exercise should be on my desk by the end of March.” This, he said, while taking into account the complexities that are intrinsic to that venture.

He also warned that the next step was to have a discussion with the unionized NLA employees “to look at the Lotteries proposed timelines. We also aired several small issues and got about 70% of them resolved.”

The veteran trade unionist took the time “to congratulate the brothers and sisters on staff at the National Lotteries Authority for sending a clear message that they are not prepared to take any nonsense.” He however concluded “it didn’t have to come to this but all is well that ends well.”

On Monday, sources reaching out to ANN claimed that at least 80% of the NLA workforce was in support of a proposed sick-out that should have started on Tuesday morning. This came in light of the fact that several requests, by letter, to hold talks regarding the strategy to be used to implement the reclassification exercise and proposed pension plan were insultingly ignored. Relations were further strained by the fact that both the union and the NLA Board were for some time in agreement as to the need for both new measures, which are aimed at satisfying the NLA’s human assets. Tensions were exacerbated by the callous nonchalance of the Authority’s top brass who’s mode of response to the several letters sent in the intervening months since the most recent negotiations was to increase their individual frequent flyer miles, informally scold at least one union delegate/staff member for “spreading lies” with regards to reports made to NWM as well as electing to arbitrarily award salary increases to individual employees.

Since the news broke of the threatened industrial actions, at least one social commentator has described of affairs at the National Lotteries Authority as “shameful” and “scandalous.”

Jerry George was, at the time, making his weekday radio talk show contribution to BOOM 106.9’s OMG in the Morning. When prompted by host Bing Joseph his reaction was unbridled. “It is absolutely shameful that – I mean I read in this article for example that some people been working at the Lotteries for 2 decades and can’t get $2000 ah month; and yet you hear that the Lotteries raked in last year 70 million dollars? There’s something very scandalous about that and I’ll say this here and I’ll say this without no water in my mouth: if it’s one institution that I want investigated, it’s the National Lottery.” [sic]

George’s rejoinder came moments after National Workers Movement boss Noel Jackson ended his contribution to the same show. Bing and his team were, on Tuesday, discussing the threatened industrial action by NLA staff as reported in an annsvg.com article that broke the news of the NLA’s misconduct.

Asked to share his reasons for wanting such an investigation, George opined, “there’s some people who are living high off the hog at the National Lottery. Not people who win money… there are people who have businesses that are formed through the National Lottery. Like there’s one of them I met – I read this article here and certain people at a certain entity are being said to uhh, they are striking too; an entity which I considered was a private company.”

Bing, at this point, interjected, “wah you talking bout, VC3?” Jerry George’s astute response to Bing’s prompt was, “that’s the one that makes the most sense to you? I agree with you. How some of these things come up? I mean the National Lotteries have been functioning for years, it has been taken for a ride by politicians, by everybody….’’

annsvg.com reported, “employees at the National Lotteries Authority span several groupings. They include workers at the Victoria Park facilities, security personnel, janitors, collection officers/sales agents, general staff at its Kingstown headquarters and persons employed at local cable channel VC3 as well as others who are stationed at the sundry sport venues currently supervised by the Authority.”