Today is the 31st anniversary of the Social Security Board but a number of workers are not in the celebration mood and donned black ribbons today to express their discontent; i.e. discontent with the negotiation process with the board at social security. The Christian Workers Union has been trying to negotiate new benefits for the social security workers from before the end of the governmentís previous term in office. Now, workers and CWU are saying that the new board seems to be ignoring the negotiation process. We spoke with CWU president Antonio Gonzalez.

Antonio Gonzalez, CWU President
The union along with its members decided to express our deep concern and our deep dissatisfaction as to the closure of the ongoing negotiations and finally the findings of the collective agreements. We have been in the negotiation process for over five years and before the General Elections, both parties reached an agreement on the terms and conditions of a new collective agreement. At that time, as you know the elections came and they said that there was no board in place and that they couldnít sign the agreement. We are dealing with SSB as the entity - that means that if any Board of Directors are to be put in place, they would have some concerns, because probably they didnít negotiate the collective agreement (the terms and conditions), but regardless of that the agreement could have been signed before the election because the negotiations had been completed between both parties and both parties had vetted the document.

Gonzalez says that they understand that the new board seems to want to start the process all over again.

Antonio Gonzalez
So here we come now after the elections; we have a new board and a new Chairman, now we understand that the Chairman is consulting former board members, the former CEO and even the former Chairperson. He has indicted in correspondence that he intends to pursue the matter even further with the Prime Minister, who is the Minster concerned with Social Security. This comes as a big surprise to me and as a big setback because we are awaiting some of the benefits that were already agreed by both parties to benefit our members. In particular we have the Long Service Award, whereby people with so many years get a financial amount and so forth, as well as other benefits that have not be vetted to our members.

According to Gonzalez, if there is no progress by the end of next week, industrial action will be considered.

Antonio Gonzalez
We are saying that we are frustrated and we tired of this nonsense at the SSB. We are tired and we intend to take further industrial action, if we donít sign this agreement within the next week, we will take industrial action. We wish the Insured Person their 31st anniversary as Insured Person at the Social Security, but we cannot express the same sentiments to the Management, the Board of Directors and the Social Security Board. We are at arms with the Board of Directors and the Management at the SSB.

Jesse Mendoza, Journalist, PlusNews
So it is just like a repetition on the process heís doing?

Antonio Gonzalez
Yes, we are tiring of this nonsense. Every time we come at SSB, itís the same thing over and over, itís like they are not mature enough to deal with that kind of situation. Our members are very frustrated. All we are asking is let us be reasonable - the Union is prepared to sign the document next week and let both parties move on. However they consult the former board members and consult this one and that one; however, when these persons leave the office, they leave documents and minutes. So they must know the trend that whereby both parties agree.