Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly

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A call is being made to the Ministry of Education to payout salary relief grants to school cleaners employed with the Ministry’s Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Division.

In an email sent to Guardian Media, its sender, identified as an ECCE school cleaner, claimed since the closure of schools in March, an early measure taken by the Government to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, after recording the country’s first imported case, cleaners, who qualified for and were expected to receive salary relief grants, have yet to collect any and have had no communication forthcoming from the ministry even after several inquiries. The cleaner said like teachers, who continued to receive salaries during schools’ closure, cleaners too, had bills to pay and maintain food on their tables. But when Guardian Media contacted the Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, she said via a WhatsApp message, the Ministry of Education was not an agency, which paid out salary relief grants.

She said such would fall within the remit of either the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services or the Ministry of Finance.

However, when contacted the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services said it was the Ministry of Finance handling such grants through its salary relief programme.

It said ECCE cleaners pay national insurance (NIS) and as such, it was the Ministry of Finance those persons were to consult.

The ministry explained there were two types of grants—the salary relief grant and an income support grant—the latter given to persons who do not pay NIS.

It said a list was provided to the Ministry for persons qualifying for the income support grant and those grants were paid out.

Guardian Media contacted Minister of Finance Colm Imbert to confirm whether the salary relief grants to be paid to ECCE cleaners were pending, but phone calls went unanswered and a WhatsApp message sent was read, but no response was given.