By Theresa Goodwin
A number of staff members attached to the Eastern Caribbean Marina and Boatyard Limited in Jolly Harbour are demanding written assurances that their severance will be paid by the current management, and a clearly defined time period when this will be done.
Their response follows confirmation from the company, via an email, that all employee/employer obligations and responsibilities will remain under the purview of the current ownership.
The company posted similar information on its Facebook page earlier today while at the same time announcing that they have entered into a partnership with local businessman Robert Gillespie over the sale of the company.
It was also noted that, upon completion of the sale, the marina operations will remain intact and business will continue as usual. Until such time, all employment positions, including that of the General Manager, Jo Lucas, will remain.
This has not brought much comfort to the staff — who staged a sick-out on Monday — over concerns regarding their severance and other entitlements.
They have argued that both the management of the boatyard and their lawyers are seemingly on different pages regarding the issue of severance and until they receive something conclusive in writing, they will continue to agitate.
On Tuesday, Observer media received a copy of a letter in which the company’s lawyer indicated that the company “agreed with the buyer 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, it added that “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 missive was addressed to Industrial Relations Officer at the Antigua Trades & Labour Union, Ralph Potter, who is representing the interests of the workers.
The union official is of the view that the issue of severance should be paid by the current management.