Retired health worker pleads for Deyalsingh’s help

Af­ter decades of work at the South West Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ty (SWRHA), for­mer Or­tho­pe­dic tech­ni­cian John Ro­driguez is ap­peal­ing to Health Min­is­ter Ter­rence Deyals­ingh to help him, say­ing that 18 months af­ter re­tire­ment, he is yet to re­ceive one cent of his pen­sion.

Ro­driguez said he will give the SWRHA un­til the end of Feb­ru­ary and is al­ready con­sult­ing with an at­tor­ney to file le­gal ac­tion against the or­gan­i­sa­tion to get his hard-earned mon­ey.

He said through­out his tenure, he would have con­tributed to the pen­sion plan, there­fore he was not look­ing for a hand­out.

“I have bills to pay, a fam­i­ly to mind, a wife to take care of, I am rent­ing, I have bills, I owe Courts and I have to make gro­ceries. At my age, I can’t mix con­crete again af­ter I gave 41 years ser­vice to the San Fer­nan­do Gen­er­al Hos­pi­tal,” Ro­driguez said.

At Guardian Me­dia’s San Fer­nan­do of­fice, he showed a copy of the Elec­tion of Pen­sion Op­tion up­on Re­tire­ment Form for the Re­gion­al Health Au­thor­i­ties Pen­sion Fund Plan (South West Sec­tion). It showed that on Sep­tem­ber 9, 2017, he opt­ed to re­ceive a 25 per cent cash lump sum and a re­duced month­ly pen­sion. This was done ahead of his of­fi­cial re­tire­ment date so that when he left the hos­pi­tal, he would con­tin­ue to re­ceive an in­come to help sus­tain his fam­i­ly.

Now, he is on the verge of pau­per­dom as his ba­sic bills are mount­ing and he is close to de­fault­ing on a hire-pur­chase plan at Courts. He said many of his for­mer col­leagues are suf­fer­ing the same fate and of­ten cry at the hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing told that they would not be able to ac­cess their pen­sion. Each time they go, they are told that their files are be­ing au­dit­ed.

Apart from Deyals­ingh, he called on SWRHA chair­man Va­lerie Al­leyne-Rawl­ins and CEO Kei­th Mc­Don­ald to res­cue him from a life of pover­ty.

For­mer SWRHA chair­man and Fyz­abad MP Dr Lack­ram Bo­doe has reached out to Deyals­ingh on be­half of Ro­driguez. Through his con­stituen­cy of­fice, Bo­doe, in a let­ter dat­ed Jan­u­ary 18, said that af­ter 11 years work­ing at the SWRHA (pre­vi­ous­ly worked at the hos­pi­tal un­der the Min­istry of Health), Ro­driguez was hav­ing dif­fi­cul­ties re­ceiv­ing his month­ly pen­sion and gra­tu­ity from 2007.

“I would be grate­ful if you can have some­one look in­to this mat­ter as Mr Ro­driguez is in need of in­come,” Bo­doe said.

In a re­sponse via tele­phone, Mc­Don­ald said that like the rest of the pub­lic ser­vice, the SWRHA has to process the is­suance of pen­sion, which would take some time, years in some cas­es.

He said that in some cas­es, em­ploy­ees’ leave has to be ver­i­fied be­fore mon­ey can be paid. “It is a com­pli­cat­ed process when a per­son goes through the sys­tem and they have the in­cor­rect leaves and oth­er things. It can im­pact on your pen­sion at the end of the day,” Mc­Don­ald said.

He said he would have to look in­to Ro­driguez’s file to de­ter­mine the sta­tus of his pen­sion.

Reporter: Kevon Felmine

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