A worker at St. Vincent Shipyard Ltd., the company that leased the Ottley Hall Marina and Shipyard, has accused the management of withdrawing money from his salary and not paying it to a lending agency that he owes money.
Renold Williams, Belmont who has worked at the marina for eight years, the last 16 months under SSL said that they have been withdrawing money from this salary to repay QuickCash, but has not paid over the monies to the company.
“I borrowed money from QuickCash and he taking my money out and he’s not paying it. So it comes like he stealing it,” Williams told iWitness News on Friday during an interview in which SSL workers expressed dissatisfaction with how Venezuelan, Daniel Ravotti is running the shipyard, including not paying workers their full wages.
“I can’t take it anymore because when I ask him for my money, he keep promising me, promising me he will pay it and he don’t pay it. So it come like he blocking my traffic because if I go anywhere to borrow money I won’t be able to get it… He is putting me down on my face. Bailiff done come to me already and is not me,” Williams said.
Another worker, Cornelius Lewis, said he was involved in an incident in February and had to stay at home for more than a month.
He said that when he took the sick leave notice to SSL, they sent it to the National Insurance Services, which told him they were responsible for paying him 65 per cent of the money due to him and the company has to pay the other 35 per cent.
Lewis, who is the chief welder at the company, said that the SSL’s 35 per cent was EC$1616.14. They gave him EC$800 and have not paid him the remainder since.
Steve Ollivierre, operations manager at SSL, who was present at the time of the interview, empathised with the worker, who he said is an “exceptional” welder.
When the government granted SSL a 15-year lease of the marina at US$5,400 a month, the Venezuelan directors of SLL said they were going to bring skills sets to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to teach the workers how to do the job.
“This man is one of the best in the region when it comes to marine work on ships. We actually had to turn and teach them,” Ollivierre said in the interview in which workers complained about a myriad of issues at the shipyard.
“No one knows the length and breadth of what goes on in this place. It is ridiculous. Deplorable! Unacceptable. It needs to stop,” said Ollivierre, who said he is owed EC$32,000 in unpaid wages since he began working with SSL 16 months ago.
Mingestu Jacobs, the trade union delegate at the SSL, added:
“It needs to be addressed immediately. For it to stop, it needs to be addressed immediately. It’s not tomorrow or next week, it has to be addressed. Immediately.”
Ollivierre, however, said the skills sets that the Venezuelans brought to the machine shop was a good thing.
“It is the best we have had in the country in a long time. And again, underpaid, whatever the case was, they had to go back [to Venezuela].”