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Hustle Truck workers ‘hurt’ at budget cut news

Hustle truck workers have said they are hurt and concerned about their futures after news surfaced the programme could be cancelled. According to Susan Jones, who has been using the service on and off for two years, it kept many people employed and off the streets.

She said the programme, which allows workers to clean yards and move furniture in exchange for cash, has given her a “foot up” while she looks for permanent employment.

MPs in the House of Assembly on Monday said the programme could be cancelled after its funding was cut to zero in this year's Budget.

Health Minister Zane DeSilva said a private company should step forward to ensure the project can be maintained.

Yesterday

The Royal Gazette spoke to workers and staff who said they were waiting for a formal announcement from National Security Minister David Burch on the fate of the programme.

Ms Jones, a grandmother-of-two, said the odd jobs gave her cash to survive after she was let go from a job she held for six months.

She said anyone who talked to the seniors and community members who benefit from their services would “get a lot of good feed back”.

She also said she had taken the possible programme closure hard.

“It hurts because a lot of people if they weren't here would be out in the streets. This keeps them close like a family. All we are asking for is someone to help us. We just want to be heard.”

Nichole Lambert also praised the scheme, which helped her find temporary work including a three-month position at Belco.

“Without them I would never have had that,” she said adding that the economic climate makes it even more challenging to find a job.

“Right now employment is really hard out there so this [programme] does help a lot. It is not a permanent job, but gives people a chance to get their foot in the door and gives the encouragement they need.”

She said “it was not fair” the programme's budget had been cut and said she's unsure of what her future would look like if it ended permanently.

“I don't know what I would do if it was cancelled because there are so many people out of work.”

Programme Coordinator Major Henry Campbell said the work scheme has been “fully subscribed”, with 40 to 60 people each day, since its inception in March 2007.

He said the programme has been important for those out of work, but explained it was ultimately intended to assist people on their way to finding a full-time position.

“We have had positive feedback from the workers as well as the folks in the community that they have been able to assist. There have been hirings, but not necessarily in the high numbers but that is to be expected considering the climate.

“Still it is good to know some people have been able to get full-time jobs. “

He said a number of hustle truck workers attended the hospitality fair held last month by Labour Minister Kim Wilson and are waiting for hotel positions to become available in the summer.

He urged the business community to help the programme stay afloat or help assist by giving workers full-time employment.

“Any assistance from the private sector is appreciated. The emphasis is to find these people full-time employment,” Major Campbell added.

Senator David Burch launching the Hustle Truck initiative. File picture.

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Published March 02, 2011 at 9:11 am (Updated March 02, 2011 at 9:11 am)

Hustle Truck workers ‘hurt’ at budget cut news

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