Barbadians urged to protest against NIS changes

Barbadians are being urged to come forward and protest against the Government’s changes to the National Insurance and Social Security (Amendment) Bill 2023.

General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union (UWU), Caswell Franklyn, and activists Marcia Weekes and Winston Clarke of the Steering Committee, made that plea as they announced their march on Saturday.

“The problem here is Barbadians themselves, Barbadians sit down and take it. We have a situation where they took up the pension age in France to 64 and they rioted. I am not advocating any rioting, but all we are asking you to do is let the Government know that you are not pleased,” Franklyn said.

He made those comments during a press conference at UWU’s 5th Avenue Belleville, St Michael office.

Late last year, the Government announced that the fund could be in jeopardy in about 12 years if there was no reform. There were a series of town hall meetings where Barbadians offered suggestions.

Last month, Minister of Labour Colin Jordan, in a statement in the House of Assembly, announced that the pensionable age would be 67.5 years in 2028 and 68 in 2034.

He also said contributions to become eligible for pensions will move from 500 weeks (ten years) to 750 weeks (15 years), but these changed would not affect those who are 60 or older on January 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, Franklyn urged those who were against those changes to speak out.

“That is why we are staging this march through Bridgetown on Saturday, to let the Government see that the people of this country are not happy with what you are doing with the NIS funds that are not theirs.

“It is our money and they are taking it away from us and then asking us to pay it back. That is not fair,” he added.

The march will begin at Kensington Oval at 10 a.m. (TG)