Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 01, 2017 (SKNIS): The Office of the Skills Training Empowerment Programme (STEP), formerly known as the People Employment Programme (PEP) held a series of meetings in various areas with the aim of sensitizing workers responsible for the environmental upkeep and the changes within the newly launched STEP.

Osbert DeSuza, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and Coordinator of STEP, said that the meetings were held in Newtown, Cayon, Molineux, Saddlers, Sandy Point, St. Pauls and West Basseterre and were well attended. He added that the goal was to encourage the workers to develop a positive attitude for the work.

“It was to try to impress upon them that we don’t want [them] to be just out here cutting grass and chopping bush, but we want you to change your mindset and come around to the fact that it is possible under this programme for you to receive some kind of formal/non-formal training,” said the STEP coordinator.

The permanent secretary stated that another important aspect that were discussed during the meetings was the matter of perception.

“I said to the persons who attended that the general public will only change its perception of the programme when the workers themselves begin to change their perception of the programme. So any perception change has to come from them,” he said. “I spoke to them about their dress code, about their conduct, about not coming to work, about their relationship between them and their supervisors and also about their general attitude towards work.”

He noted that persons were also briefed on the change in hours under the programme. They are expected to work from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. from Mondays to Thursdays and from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fridays with breaks where necessary. Mr. DeSuza said that additional field officers from the office, as well as supervisors, were brought on to oversee the workers and to ensure that they adhere to the changes.

“We are getting some responses. In some areas there are still some challenges that we have to deal with but the public is aware that in a number of cases before persons who were on the programme at 7:30, 8:00, 8:30, 9:00 you cannot find them, but at the end of the week they expect to be given a full week’s pay,” he said, adding that this will not continue. “You cannot expect to go to work at 7 and by 8:30 you’re back in your house and then the government should compensate you. That is not a fair thing and it is not a reasonable expectation of the persons of the country.”

The coordinator said that it is imperative for persons to understand that they have an obligation to the country just as the country has an obligation to them. He encouraged persons to produce in order to advance the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.