MEMBER of Legislative Assembly (MLA) Gavin Short confirmed yesterday that while it was indeed more expensive to employ Falkland Islands Company (FIC) agency workers for the Highway Department than direct labour, the Government did not have any responsibility for the workers terms and conditions, “or even what they are paid, to be brutally honest.”
In Legislative Assembly yesterday he said if for whatever reason a worker who is supplied by the agency is found to be wanting, they will be replaced by the agency at no extra cost to FIG; adding that it was his opinion that those brought in should not be paid more or less than their local counterparts which could potentially cause problems with the local workforce.
“It is a well known fact Falkland Islanders do not like seeing people being treated badly as I can well remember from my Union days when FIG first brought in workers from St Helena,” said MLA Short as he addressed the Assembly during the Motion for Adjournment speeches.
FIC Managing Director Roger Spink told Penguin News that the agency workers would be paid in line with current FIC construction workers, adding that while he had not carried out a complete analysis he doubted there would be much difference between FIC and FIG wages.
“Wage agreements are between employer and employee and FIC employ the workers being sourced,” he said.
MLA Short said the Government had been left with several choices which had included cutting back on road work this season or increasing wages right across Government in the hope of luring some of the workers back.
“To do this would have meant raising wages in all sectors of the FIG and wasn’t viewed with any great enthusiasm as if and when oil stops we may have found ourselves with a wages bill that we couldn’t afford.”
MLA Short said direct labour was still his preferred option, however given the short space of time and the lack of accommodation for workers, agency workers was the only viable option open if they wished to see any real progress this year.