The hearing into the alleged non-payment of pension to former employees of the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) is slated to continue on Tuesday, even as efforts are made to highlight circumstances that led to the situation.
The disgruntled employees for a second time on Friday last staged a picketing exercise outside of the Camp Street office of the insurance company in their quest to inform the public of the treatment that was meted out to them.
According to one of the picketers, Samantha Bettencourt, “We want the public to know how CLICO betrayed our trust…they have skeletons in their closet. They portray themselves as a very people-centered company and they are involved in donating here, there and everywhere, but we want people to know that out monies are involved in those donations.”
Explaining the origin of their dilemma, Bettencourt said that the parent company in Trinidad had sent the pension funds of former employees to be paid out since 2003, an action which she claimed the local subsidiary failed to carry out.
According to another former employee, Maureen Williams, the situation is very disturbing. She had given just about 18 years of her skills to a company which has now turned around and denied her, her rightful entitlement.
“I started when I was just 20 years old…with a sister company, and it bothers me that I have to start over…It is difficult when it comes to building relationships and setting up roots for benefits.”
Bettencourt alleged that through some questionable actions, the local CLICO office had sought to disenfranchise the more than 100 employees by formatting a contract which stipulates that some persons would be paid, while others would be paid a fraction of what is owed to them or nothing at all.
“They saw it fit to confiscate by creating a new contract and telling some people that their names were not on the list. They even provided proof of such by stipulating that certain number of years of service did not qualify for pension.”
And according to Bettencourt, who was told she has not qualified for pension since she did not attain nine years of employment with the company, the treatment meted out to them leaves much to be desired.
It was for this reason, Bettencourt said, that some eight disenfranchised former employees were forced to take the matter to court.
For the past five years the matter has been before the court.
“We have been hiding this from the public for five years and it is time that we come out with this. We should not have to be fighting like this to get our hard-earned money. We have given our evidence to the court and we are confident that justice will prevail,” Bettencourt said.
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