Former senator knocks post-retirement treatment

Senior staff reporter

Monday, May 27, 2019

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“DISGRACEFUL” was how former Senator Navel Clarke described the treatment of his efforts to collect his gratuity from Gordon House, after three years of retirement.

“I thought it was done automatically. I didn't know I would have to apply or beg for it,” Senator Clarke, whose 23-year stint in the Senate ended in March 2016, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.

Clarke, after waiting for close to 30 months for the payment, wrote to House Clerk Heather Cooke in February this year.

“Having waited for three years to receive same and without any form of communication, I am forced by circumstances to seek your assistance for the payment of the gratuity mentioned. The document speaks for itself,” he stated in the letter.

Cooke is currently on leave and was not available to explain how far the process of enabling the gratuity owed to Clarke has reached.

“Three years have passed since I retired, and I still haven't received it. I hope they are not planning on giving it to me posthumously. I need it now, I have medical bills to pay,” he told the Observer.

Clarke, a former general secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) trade union affiliate, National Workers' Union, spent 23 consecutive years in the Senate after being nominated by the party in 1993. He quit in March 2016 after the PNP lost the general election.

When he quit he was the second-longest serving senator, after Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) nominee and former president of the Senate Oswald Harding, who spent 25 years. However, Clarke's failed efforts to get his gratuity paid, even after consulting with the Government, have shaped his anger.

Additionally, the former senator is not sure on what basis the gratuity will be calculated. He entered the Senate in 1993 following the famous Oliver Clarke committee report on parliamentary salaries recommending that senators, who were then being paid an honorarium of $500 per meeting, should be paid $17,000 per meeting.

The Observer has learnt that currently senators are being paid up to $40,000 per meeting, and are eligible to join Government's health insurance scheme for civil servants.

Parliament also instituted recommendations for the senators to be paid 25 per cent of their meeting fees as gratuity, in lieu of a pension, and they continue to be eligible for the 20 per cent duty concession for the purchase of a motor vehicle, which all members of the public sector enjoy.

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