Wage worries for workers post-Humberto
Workers feared they could lose wages after being unable to get to their jobs in the wake of Hurricane Humberto, the Government said yesterday.
Lovitta Foggo, the Minister of Labour, Community Affairs and Sport, urged employers to consider alternative ways to cover costs after her department received calls from worried residents.
The announcement came while a tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda, but that was cancelled at 6pm yesterday after Jerry was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone.
Ms Foggo explained: “We’ve been inundated with inquiries from the public regarding salary deductions as a result of missed work days due to Hurricane Humberto last week.
“A number of employees have explained that because of road closures, school and nursery closures, property damage and fallen utility poles and wires, they were prevented from attending their place of employment following Hurricane Humberto.
“And many of these workers have been advised that their salaries will suffer as a result.
“These are uncontrollable and unfortunate events, and the ministry encourages employers to seek alternative measures as it relates to staff absences.
“Measures such as applying unused paid leave as opposed to not paying workers who were absent as a result of the hurricane should be considered by employers.”
Humberto brought havoc to the island with 81mph winds and gusts of more than 114mph recorded at LF Wade International Airport.
Many homes were badly damaged across the island and public schools were closed for two days after the storm, which was at its height between 7pm and 10pm on September 18.
More than 28,500 customers lost power.
Buses remained out of service on Thursday and Friday, with routes starting to return to normal over the weekend.
Ms Foggo said: “The ministry, in conjunction with the unions and employer groups, certainly appreciate the delicate financial position of our employers as it relates to their continued business operations.
“However, we’re asking for these employers to please ensure that these employment issues are addressed equitably.
“In the interim, workers who are still experiencing issues following the hurricane are strongly urged to communicate with their employers so that solutions can be enacted in a timely manner.
“Lastly, any private sector employer who is challenged in meting out fair and equitable pay following last week’s hurricane should contact the Labour Relations Section so that our officers can assist you.”
The Labour Relations Section is at 23 Parliament Street, Hamilton, in the old Magistrates’ Court building.
It is open weekdays from 8.45am to 5pm and can be reached on 297-7714/16.
In its final advisory on the system at 6pm yesterday, the Bermuda Weather Service forecast that post-tropical cyclone Jerry would be within 29 miles, or directly over, the island at 10pm last night.
Jerry’s strength had dipped to winds of 35mph and gusts to 46mph.
It was at that time 47 miles west-southwest of Bermuda, moving east-northeast at 12mph.
Tropical Storm Karen remained a potential threat and continued to head north at 14mph.
At 6pm, Karen was 650 miles south of Bermuda, with winds of 40mph and gusts to 52mph.
Its closest point to the island within the next 72 hours was expected to be 370 miles to the south-southeast at 3am on Friday.
However, this system may move closer to Bermuda after this time period depending upon its track.
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