Seychellois workers to get their salaries until end of December 2020 | 22 May 2020
By Patrick Joubert
Seychellois employees will not lose out on their salaries after June 2020, now that government has guaranteed to continue paying their salaries from July to end of December 2020.
It was the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, who made the announcement with the press yesterday, following a second round of meeting chaired by President Danny Faure with key stakeholders on pertinent employment-related matters until June 2020 and beyond, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Expatriate workers will not be included for salary retention as from July.
The Financial Assistance for Job Retention (FA4JR) scheme set up by government guarantees salary payments for employees and self-employed individuals, for both local and expatriates, from April to end of June 2020.
“With regard to the financial assistance for salaries, the decision of government is that it will continue the same scheme from July 1 right through to December 31, 2020. But as from July 1, the payment of salaries will be only to Seychellois workers and not expatriates,” Minister Loustau- Lalanne said, noting that those workers being made redundant will also be paid their salaries every month until end of December 2020.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne said that further to securing of their salaries, those made redundant will be placed on a scheme, which will include re-training, so as to be able to do other jobs. Details of the scheme will be announced later.
“We will not be paying somebody to stay at home. In this time of crisis when government is securing their salaries, he or she must be prepared to do any work to be requested from them that will continue to keep the economy moving,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne said, noting that the R1.90 billion approved budget is enough to cover Seychellois workers’ salaries until end of December 2020.
He noted that companies that were not assisted under FA4JR scheme in the April applications, their employees will as from July 1 onwards, be also assisted with salary payments.
Apart from President Faure, Minister Loustau-Lalanne, the private sector and trade unions, the meeting at State House yesterday morning was also attended by the Minister for Employment, Immigration and Civil Status Myriam Telemaque, the Minster for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine Didier Dogley, Attorney General Frank Ally and other top officials from the employment department.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne claimed the second round of negotiation, which follows the first round held last Saturday between government and the private sector in relation to financial assistance and Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) – work permit – was very fruitful.
He said that three main decisions were taken during the meeting, with two of the decisions to be discussed further on Tuesday next week along with the involvement of the Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), Caroline Abel.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne stated that as employers have voiced concerns that government is providing assistance only to employees and haven’t really looked at a scheme to support businesses, the private sector had wanted to see some assistance to be provided or that could be provided by the government, to businesses directly.
He noted though that government’s decision to support businesses is through a loan scheme mechanism worth R500 million with CBS and issues raised by the employers have prompted further discussion in relation to the loan scheme.
In relation to GOP, also to be finalised next Tuesday, Minister Loustau-Lalanne said that the private sector were concerned that when they will make their expatriate staff redundant and they go away, they will never get their post back.
Minister Loustau-Lalanne stated that to alleviate the situation in making available existing expatriate workers in the country for business continuity, the government has taken the decision to facilitate the extension of GOPs for the 4000 plus expatriate workers whose GOP expires between April and June 2020.
He noted that this will be based on requests made by the businesses.
He stated the 6000 plus out of the country will not be allowed to enter and their GOPs have been terminated.
“The point I want to make is that, if they are able to start the negotiation procedures to make their staff redundant, the responsibility to pay compensation to the staff that are being made redundant rests entirely with the businesses,” Minister Loustau-Lalanne said, noting the business owners have to take responsibility towards their businesses.
He encouraged workers who would be affected to take on job opportunities available even though not in their related and respective fields.
He commended the hotel workers, among other tourism workers, who responded to jobs advertised by the Indian Ocean Tuna Ltd (IOT).
For his part, the principal secretary for employment, Jules Baker, reminded the employees that will be lucky to have not been made redundant and will be receiving their salaries from government though they will be staying at home, to make it their responsibility to come down to work when requested.
He claimed that the department has up to now recorded 20 redundancy applications by businesses.
He also called on those to be made redundant and will still be paid their salaries, to make it their duty to come to work when asked to even though not in their line of duty.
The secretary-general of the Seychelles Federations of Workers Union (SFWU), Antoine Robinson, said it was encouraging to see that the situation for the time being in this time of crisis reflected a win-win situation for both employers and employees.
He noted that while being guaranteed their salaries, the workers must at all cost be prepared to work as there is no such thing as ‘a free lunch’.
On behalf of the private sector, Sybille Cardon from the Seychelles Hotel and Tourism Association (SHTA) said she was happy with the outcome, although she did not elaborate further.