Categorized | Featured, National News

Former City Market Employees Demand Severance Pay

Photo taken by Ahvia Campbell

More than 300 former City Market employees are “upping the ante” against the government for the monies that they say are legally owed to them.

The employees were laid off earlier this year after Bahamas Supermarkets Limited – the parent company – said the food store chain was not making any profits.

On Monday, a group of those employees stormed the Department of Labour’s Clarence A. Bain building demanding a meeting with the Director of Labour, Harcourt Brown.

The meeting was scheduled for 10:00 a.m.

But, according to the food store’s former Inventory Auditor, Whanslaw Turnquest, the meeting was not unsuccessful as Bahamas Supermarkets CEO Mark Finlayson, never showed up, nor did the labour director.

Instead, the company sent its Human Resources Director Constance Rolle, who was still unable to give the employees a definitive answer on when the severance packages would be paid out.

“The meeting was to get the financial accounting for the employees but this didn’t happen. We also have legal action pending in the Supreme Court which we are expecting a ruling from this week pertaining to our pension fund. The laws in the country have to prevail. By law, once a company closes the employees are entitled to a severance package,” Mr. Turnquest said yesterday.

Mr. Turnquest added that the matter has dragged on long enough and the former employees want resolution “right away.”

“If we don’t get that resolution, we will take drastic actions to make sure these employees are paid,” he said.

“This is a publicly traded company and there are rules under which they should abide by. This is not a private company and this cannot be done. This is a bad precedence we are setting for international companies coming to this country and we are not going to allow this to continue to happen.”

Albertha Rahming, a former employee at the South Beach store, said the former employees need the money because they have “bills to pay and mouths to feed.”

“We have been out of work for four months,” she said.

“The last time we met up here they asked both sides to stay out of the media and we did that. Mr. Finlayson has been in the media several times saying that we would be paid. This is almost two months and we haven’t heard anything from them. Half of us are not working. We haven’t heard from the minister of labour or prime minister as yet. This issue is not a new one.”

She also explained that the new government has been in power long enough and is more than familiar with their matter.

“Mr. Christie knows what is going on,” Ms. Rahming said.

“Even before they came into office, they had the information. These people are affiliated with the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and nobody has come to our aid. We have a lot of people who have small children and people have been evicted from their homes. National Insurance is not paying us fully for the years we worked and that’s not fair to us. Don’t get me wrong, I thank God for the money, but it’s not enough.”

Ms. Rahming said the company has had enough time to get the former employees their money.

“We are not begging them for anything that doesn’t belong to us,” she said.

The Journal understands the employees have already sought a permit from the commissioner to protest on Bay Street.

The Journal also spoke with Minister of Labour, Shane Gibson just before he went into the House of Assembly yesterday, who declined to comment. He said he wanted to speak with the labour director to make sure they were “both on the same page” on the matter.

The former employees were told yesterday that the director is currently in Geneva.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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