Categorized | Featured, National News

Laws Coming to Protect Laid Off Workers – City Market Saga Nearing End


New laws to protect Bahamian workers from companies that go belly up and leave them stranded and broke could be placed before Parliament as early as July 25.

Labour Minister Shane Gibson told members of the press Thursday that the government is now drafting legislation to prevent another City Market fiasco.

The food store chain folded and left hundreds of workers without their final pay cheques.

“What we are doing now is trying to understand all of the various issues affecting the workers. We are looking, particularly, into redundancy,” he said.

“I think it happened in Freeport with Royal Oasis when Driftwood left and did not take care of their obligation. It happened at Gladstone Farms and several other businesses where they closed. In several instances, there were some foreign investors who employed individuals and have outstanding benefits at the end of their employment and are either unwilling or unable to pay.”

Minister Gibson said the parameters of the proposed laws are not yet specific.

“It is very disheartening to employees when they would have worked for such a long time and they have monies owed to them. They are not asking for anything more than what is owed to them but yet, they are having a difficulty collecting it.”

The City Markets empire went belly up leaving hundreds of workers without the monies and benefits owed to them.

They have since been fighting tooth and nail with the company’s former owners to get the money in order to pay bills and live day to day.

On Thursday, the minister delivered a bit of good news.

According to Mr. Gibson, the employees “are closer now than they have been in the past” to getting the $3 million redundancy money they are owed.

“We had very good discussions and (City Market) owners committed to us and to the employees that we will receive the benefits,” Stephano Greene, president of the union representing the workers added.

“Out of that meeting, we felt very comfortable and we are confident the government will do its part to assist.”
The minister said he too had meetings with the grocery store’s owners and is equally confident the end of this saga is near.

“I am confident that they are owed monies. Whether or not they will be paid, that is difficult to say, because at the end of the day, that responsibility is that of the former employer,” he said.

“But he had given me assurances that all of the monies collected will be used to pay off his obligations.”

After meeting with the two umbrella unions – the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas NCTUB) – Minister Gibson spent most of Thursday meeting with smaller unions like those representing the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) and Her Majesty’s Prisons (HMP).

Written by Jones Bahamas

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