Protest action called off at Marketing Corp
May 19, 2006
Protest action called off at Marketing Corp

Last week Thursday, one day after workers at the St. Vincent Marketing Corporation and their union, the Commercial Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU), picketed the state-owned supermarket over claims of unfair redundancy of 34 workers, protest action was called off.

The demonstration resulted from a memo circulated at the marketing corporation stating that Cabinet had agreed to hand over the management of the supermarket to the National Properties Ltd. to allow for the restructuring of the organization.{{more}}

Quick damage control measures by the management of the marketing corporation on Thursday morning stalled plans for further protest action.

When Searchlight turned up outside the marketing corporation last week Thursday, president of the CTAWU, Alice Mandeville, was busy handing out redundancy settlements to the former workers.

One worker, Angus John, who had been a driver with the “Marketing Board” for the past eight years, was all smiles after revealing his cheque of $9,185.

“I am satisfied with the compensation, I don’t mind leaving now as the working conditions here is very poor. Management have no respect for

workers,” the former Marketing Corporation employee lashed out.

Another worker Melissa Ashton, raised some concern at the way workers were being treated.

“There was no meeting with the workers, they just made their decisions without any knowledge to us,” she said.

According to the union president, the workers were displeased with the management style at the marketing corporation and decided to accept their redundancy packages.

“We agree with the statement of these workers, the Marketing Corporation has been poorly managed,” board members of the National Properties Limited (NPL) confirmed.

Speaking to Searchlight on Wednesday, board members Desmond Morgan, Victor Hadley and National Properties Manager Harold Dougan explained that the decision to transfer the marketing corporation to the NPL was taken by Cabinet after the supermarket failed to make a profit.

“For years now the marketing board has been in debt; they (Cabinet) had enough confidence in the National Properties to turn it around,” they said.

According to the board members, the public had lost all confidence in the marketing corporation, which was grossly overstaffed and in the red.

But the NPL is certain that despite these problems, their deliberations with the union did not warrant any protest.

The CTAWU has claimed that they were not notified one month prior to the termination of the workers, and this was against this country’s Protection of Employment Act.

“Where they are claiming they were not notified, the union received previous information in June and October 2005,” the board members told Searchlight.

“We do not feel that there was a fallout with the union at all; it was portrayed that way. we had three meetings with the union and we agreed on every single thing, except the list of workers who were to be terminated.

“In taking over and running an organisation we cannot have a union decide on which workers to choose and which ones to sever. we did an assessment of all the staff and we made a commercial decision. We cannot have the union coming in and telling us to leave this one and drop that one, that would be favouritism,” the NPL board members declared.

According to the NPL there would be follow-up meetings with the CTAWU to ensure jobs are allocated for these workers.

“We are going to do our very best to seek employment for these workers, but we cannot continue to run an organisation that is vastly overstaffed and mismanaged. we are going to run an organisation that is efficient, productive and profitable, the workers have been paid their severance and there is no dispute,” the NPL board members concluded.