Story and photos by Carlena Knight
“No justice, no peace” were the chants echoing on St John’s Street by disgruntled former Straffie’s workers yesterday.
About 20 former employees and supporters gathered on Monday morning in front of the long-running, city-based funeral home with placards in hand demanding answers.
The action comes days after a number of staff were given letters terminating their services due to the death of the company’s owner Elizabeth Saunders, and asking them to return keys to the premises.
One former employee, Pamela Sandy, who worked for the company for 25 years, spoke to Observer media on the scene.
“We are demonstrating because we know that Elizabeth would never like what’s going on … they have sent us home the day before pay day, just issue us with letters saying that they have terminated our services and not a cent, not a cent they have given us up to now,” Sandy proclaimed.
But Saunders’ daughter and administrator of her estate, Naadia Saunders, told Observer that the former staff had been informed that the issue of outstanding entitlements would be addressed upon completion of the necessary review of the employment records and the accounts of the estate.
She also said the company is currently in talks with the workers’ bargaining agent in this regard, adding that she could not comment further.
Tensions first arose last week after workers claimed they had been given no warning that they were being terminated until they were handed the letters and escorted off the property.
On Friday, Naadia Saunders released a statement confirming that Straffie’s remained open for business and that several staff had been offered continued employment.
She went on to say that she had been faced with the difficult task of informing those employed by her mother in her personal capacity of the impact of her death on their employment status.
Saunders explained that the issue of the payment of severance and any other entitlements due to the employees who were not offered continued employment was being addressed as a matter of priority.