KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The parliamentary representative for South Leeward, where the Buccament Bay Resort is built, says the non-payment of some workers at the five-start facility as “modern day slavery”.
“… I am not saying that St. Vincent and the Grenadines doesn’t need foreign direct investment. We need it. But not at the expense of the ordinary man who works so hard, who looks forward to be paid when Friday comes and can’t go home to provide for their family,” Nigel “Nature” Stephenson said on Saturday, even as he described the project is a “beautiful” one.
“But I want to say that I believe that what is taking place in Buccama is modern day slavery,” he said, adding that many constituents who work on the project “have gone on for many months without receiving a single cent”.
Stephenson said in Campden Park at a New Democratic Party (NDP) event to officially open his constituency office that workers are not being paid even as the ruing Unity Labour Party (ULP) blames local contractors for the situation.
“So, rather than stepping in — and you know this is a Labour government, a Labour government who should be protecting the rights of the labourers, the workers –… they are aligning themselves with the developers and saying that the reason why you are not being paid is not the fault of the developers …
“They don’t care about you. They don’t care about the situation. They don’t care about the fact that you can’t pay your bills. They don’t care about the fact that you are not able to provide for your family,” he said.
Stephenson further said that two members of “the inner circle of the ULP” had benefitted from the developers, claiming one received a house and another a Christmas gift of $100,000, but did not give further details.
Workers must be paid – Sen. Lewis
Meanwhile, Sen. Linton Lewis, chair of the NDP, also said at the same event that his party likes foreign investment and the employment it creates for citizens
“But when they work, they must get pay. And if you can’t pay them, you must explain to them why you can’t pay them,” he said.
“What you have happening in the Buccama Project is that we are saying all sorts of accidents going on. A fire here, a fire there; a problem here, a problem there and that is not good for St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said, days after a third fire broke out at the resort over the past few weeks.
Lewis said there needs to be “effective representation of all workers in this country.
“The government and the Labour Department need to come out and try and figure out and resolve the problems that are happening in the Buccama Project. We are not saying anything bad about the investment,” he said.
“I don’t think the government is doing enough to try to resolve the Buccama project on behalf of the workers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and this is happening in your constituency,” Lewis further said.