Basseterre, St. Kitts (November 11, 2015) — Renowned St. Kitts town crier Calypso Reggie, was hired by the Sugar Workers Restoration Fund (SWRF) to use the public address system mounted on his vehicle to inform all concerned about the pay-outs that were being made to former sugar workers and how to apply, among other information.
Calypso Reggie (Mr Reginald Thomas – now deceased) travelled the length and breadth of the island and did a perfect job in propagating the message to members of the public.
One person who benefitted from Calypso Reggie’s intervention is Mr Adlai Laws who on Monday November 9 collected, from the SWRF office, a gratuitous cheque for his grandfather who worked for the St. Kitts Sugar Manufacturing Corporation’s (SSMC) factory.
“I did not work in the industry,” said Mr Laws of Cardin Avenue, Trafalgar. “I am claiming for my grandfather, Mr Stanley Immanuel Laws. He used to work at the sugar factory as a pond boiler and a shift manager. He started working in 1944 and retired in 2001, and he was not paid anything the first time (when the industry closed in 2005).”
According to the younger Mr Laws, his grandfather has since relocated to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. He told of how he heard Calypso Reggie making the announcements from the PA system mounted on his car, and with that information he contacted his grandfather and informed him of the impending pay-out to former sugar workers.
“How I understood it is people who were working there the last years at the crop were to get paid,” said Mr Laws. “My intention was to go (to the SWRF office) because I knew my grandfather was not paid the first time, and he had a big position at the factory. So I just try a thing and in case and if it did not happen, I would have said nothing.”
He observed that something did happen and the reason he was collecting the cheque. He said that he was assisted by the SWRF personnel who advised him on what was required from his grandfather and he said that the process was smooth. He brought in a notarised document from his grandfather, authorising him (Mr Adlai Laws) to collect the cheque.
“On behalf on my grandfather I would say our family is happy but I guess because I am his first grandson here in St. Kitts and since my Mum is getting down,” said Mr Laws. “My Mum has other kids in the Virgin Islands. They helped assist about getting the letter and the stamping for it to be processed and they are looking forward for the cheque. My mum was aware that I was coming to collect the cheque on behalf of my grandfather.”
Mr Heston Tweed of Harries Village is a former sugar worker who also heard about the pay-out through radio, and even Calypso Reggie. His deceased mother, Mrs Maude Tweed, also worked in the sugar industry. He therefore visited the SWRF Secretariat to claim for himself and his mother.
“I am laying claim for my mum who is deceased,” said Mr Tweed. “Yes, I put in a claim for myself, but somehow I was not qualified. To be honest I was paid (in 2005), and when I work out the maths the payment was near to what I really work it out, just a couple of hundred dollars more.
“It was said that the former sugar workers were robbed, so I applied again saying, if anything there I will stretch out my hand, but if not I won’t mind, but right now I am claiming for my deceased mum. She used to work as a cleaner at the Belle Vue railway siding. I can’t pin it down actually how many years she worked, but she worked good enough years I would say.”
When the sugar industry closed in 2005 she was paid only $1,500. He said that justice has been done now that he would be able to claim from his mother’s estate. While there are five children of his late mother, he is the one who was conducting the process because a brother is in the Virgin Islands and they cannot trace him, and the other three who are here agreed that he should be the one to do it.
Mr Tweed also benefitted from the free legal services provided by the Sugar Workers Restoration Fund. He was assisted by Lawyer, Mrs Agatha James-Andres, and according to him, the only amount he paid was $175 getting a notarised letter from an outside lawyer.
“I am grateful to the SWRF for providing the lawyers otherwise it would have cost me to have the process moved forward,” said Mr Tweed. “Right here, it look like it ain’t going be chargeable but I have had to pay something somewhere to get the notarised letter. The main job is being handled by the SWRF.”
Mrs Agatha James-Andres said that she was assisting third party claimants coming on behalf of deceased former sugar workers to obtain letters of administration, and was trying to establish the right person to claim in event there are others persons who are entitled to claim on behalf of the deceased.
“That is why we are doing letters of administration,” said Mrs James-Andres. “There is a form that has to be filled and the form asks you if there are any other persons entitled to claim. In event you give any false information on this, you can be taken to court.
“So, the claimant would tell you, yes I have three sisters, two brothers, whatever the case may be, and they would list the names and we normally require a consent notarised letter from the persons saying that they give you consent to claim on their behalf.