File picture: CEPEP workers at work along the Beetham Highway opposite NP.

The Board of Directors of the Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) has decided to temporarily reduce the management fees of contractors and their workers with immediate effect.

In announcing the decision which took effect from June 4, officials claimed the contentious decision was taken to “directly protect the welfare of workers as that is the Company’s main priority at this time.”

They assured, “This measure will ensure that there is no job loss at CEPEP.”

In a release, CEPEP said workers were compensated for three months while at home in 2020.

However, at this present time, they said, “We are unable to provide that level of financial support to 10,000 workers.”

Following careful assessment, the CEPEP board took the decision to reduce the working hours of workers to four hours per day; and reduce the teams by 50 per cent so each worker will be working two days per week and a maximum of eight days per month.

Consequently, salaries will be reduced by 33.3 per cent and CEPEP has admitted this will also affect the management fees of contractors.

Indicating this to all contractors during a virtual meeting on June 2, ahead of yesterday’s announcement, the board addressed questions and concerns.

CEPEP Chairman Marilyn Michael explained, “We continue to pay the salaries of 10,000 workers and have not sent any workers home. In order to operate effectively, we have cut down the working hours of each worker and placed them in smaller rotating teams.”

She said this move had become necessary as T&T battles the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant CEPEP had to, “be responsible when utilizing public monies.”

Michael added, “At this time, we must implement stricter fiscal policies in the interest of maintaining the CEPEP programme and safeguarding the employment of the thousands of persons who depend on this organization for employment.”