Jolly Harbour Marina workers call for severance pay, company offers ‘assurance’

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By Latrishka Thomas

Employees of the Jolly Harbour Marina are agitating for payment of monies owed to them for years of service now that the company is being sold.

In fact, yesterday, Observer was told that 12 out of the 14 workers attached to the Jolly Harbour Marina Limited, who were scheduled to work, reportedly called in sick as a way of showing their frustration over the sale of the company to an unknown investor while the issue of severance and other entitlements is not being addressed.

A source close to the company stated the sale agreement is expected to be completed shortly, and to date the workers, some of whom have worked under different management for years, have heard no word about what will happen to their benefits. 

Concerns have also been raised about the possibility of the current owners migrating to England once the sale is finalised.

The Antigua Trades and Labour Union representative for the workers, Ralph Potter, told Observer that while he cannot speak to any ‘sick out,’  “we are in total disagreement with their [the company’s] position.”

He confirmed that “there is a severance pay issue that we are trying to resolve.”

“We feel they should be paid severance pay by the person who now holds shareholdings. They feel that they should not pay,” he added.

He continued saying: “The employees work for the same company…purchase of the shares represents new ownership. You can’t just make an agreement between the seller or the buyer, enter into the agreement and not speak to the workers or their representative.”

Meanwhile, a letter that reached Observer yesterday afternoon – addressed by the company’s lawyer to the workers’ union representative – indicated that the company “agreed with the buyer of the subject company to escrow with Grant Thornton Antigua the value of severance pay in respect of those employees of the company who wish to have their employment with the company severed and be paid severance.”

However, “those severance funds will be held in escrow by Grant Thornton pending the final outcome of the hearing, be it with the Labour Commissioner or the court system, in respect of your union’s claim for severance pay.”

The lawyer further indicated the company’s desire for the employees to return to work with the aforementioned assurance.

Potter said that he did receive the correspondence but was not able to peruse it at that time.

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