Paid!

BLUEFIELDS, Westmoreland — Fishery inspectors in Bluefields who had been struggling financially for months can now pay their bills after the Government finally provided funds for their salary. Now they are hoping they will be paid on time, going forward, and will soon see a salary increase.

Bluefields Bay Fishermen Friendly Society (BBFFS) fishery inspector Rudo Wedderburn is among those who are relieved to be paid after a seven-month delay.

“I appreciate it 100 per cent. It is an overwhelming joy to pay off your bills. But moving forward I hope it never happen again,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

The plight of fishery inspectors was first highlighted by the Observer on June 24 when they complained that they had not been paid since the start of the year. They are employed to the Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary, one of the country’s largest, which the BBFFS manages on behalf of the State. With no Government subventions provided to BBFFS for the first two quarters of this year, staff members were left scrambling to eke out a living.

According to BBFFS Manager Wolde Kristos, the overdue subventions were received from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries on Wednesday, August 10 and Friday, August 12. He expressed gratitude to Minister of Agriculture Pearnell Charles Jr, his advisor Bindley Sangster, and CEO of the National Fisheries Authority (NFA) Dr Gavin Bellamy for their assistance with the issue. Kristos had appealed to all three for help in ensuring that his staff were paid.

Among them is fishery inspector Julian Forrester, who had expressed frustration at the inability to pay her medical bills. She is now thrilled that she can meet her financial obligations.

However, while president of the BBFFS Deceita Turner is happy that her staff have received the long overdue payment, she has taken the opportunity to appeal to the agriculture minister to revisit their earlier request for a salary increase.

“We hope going forward we will see an increase, since we have not gotten one. We are urging the minister and his team to increase the subventions so that persons can have a liveable wage,” she said.

She also stressed the need for timely disbursement of subventions going forward, and hopes there will be no recurrence of the past seven-month delay in salaries being paid.

— Kimberley Peddie

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