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The National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago (NIBTT) headquarters. (Image courtesy NIBTT)

The Public Services Association (PSA) has filed an industrial relations offence against the National Insurance Board (NIB) over its failure to honour the terms of a collective agreement signed late last year.

According to court documents obtained by Guardian Media, the union’s President Watson Duke filed the matter in the Industrial Court last Monday, after the NIB failed to make payments to workers following the collective agreement.

“To date, NIB has failed to pay the revised salary and allowances along with the retroactive payments. Accordingly, the PSA submits that they (NIB) have fundamentally violated the terms of this collective agreement,” Duke said.

In the documents, Duke revealed that the agreement for between 2014 and 2016, which gave workers a total salary increase of nine per cent (three per cent per year), was signed on October 26, last year.

Under the agreement, which required the NIB to make retroactive payments to eligible employees by December 31, last year, workers were also given increases in their paternity leave, car and car repair loans, and travel allowances. Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) was also increased to $220.

Further increases to salary related allowances agreed to and payable by pay cycle November 30, 2020, are as follows:

*Disturbance allowance from $2,600 to $2,840;

*Paternity leave from four working days to five working days;

*Car loan from $150,000 to $175,000;

*Car repair loans from $8,000 and $10,000 to $8,600 and $10,800;

*Travelling allowances from $2,500 and $2,800 to $2,750 and $3,080;

*Sea blast allowance from $230 to $245;

*Subsistence allowance from $55 and $60 to $60 and $65;

*Commuted overtime allowance from $500 to $545.

The NIB agreed, according to the document, to supply the above agreement within 60 days of signing to each of its employees and to every new employee upon recruitment.

To date, the NIB has failed to pay the revised salary and allowances along with retroactive payments.

Through the industrial relations offence, the union is seeking to compel the NIB to abide by the terms of the agreement. It is also seeking compensation for employees, who would have relied on it to apply for loans and subsequently defaulted.

Guardian Media understands that a preliminary hearing of the case is expected to take place on Wednesday.

The collective agreement has been recently discussed in Parliament.

Responding to a question posed by Opposition Senator Wade Mark on Tuesday, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said that his ministry was seeking advice on the issue.

“The consequences of the agreement are also far-reaching and could result in tremendous expense to taxpayers if used as a precedent,” Imbert said, as he described the matter as complicated.

Imbert noted that in March 2011, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Finance wrote to the Chairman of the NIB and indicated that the Human Resource Advisory Committee of Cabinet would monitor all wage and salary negotiations. The collective agreement was not authorised by the ministerial committee, according to Imbert.

Imbert suggested that if the NIB agreement was applied to all workers in the entire public sector it would cost taxpayers approximately $7 billion.