Leader of the Opposition, Godwin Friday, has called for empathy for the workers at Buccament Bay Resort and St. Vincent Shipyard Ltd., who have been contending with irregular pay for months.
The situation at the resort — which guests say is no longer a five-star establishment as claimed — has come to the point where workers have resorted to striking in an attempt to force the management to pay them their wages and salaries.
Friday said that in this season of giving, Vincentians must empathise with workers “who, this season, have to deal with lack of payment of their salaries and wages and outright disrespect from the management of those companies.
“It is ironic that under this government, which calls itself a Labour Government, its role, both direct and indirect in those businesses have provided comfort to them in the past where now we have a situation where the workers, who gave their hard labour, the suppliers who provided the goods and services are left without payment and without resolution in sight to their problems,” the opposition leader told listeners to his New Democratic Party radio programme on Friday.
“The mismanagement and gaffes in those two places are a direct consequence of assurance and comfort that they receive from government in the past and the government’s inactivity and ineffectiveness presently in bringing a resolution to those problems,” added Friday, who is also MP for the Northern Grenadines.
He said he had read in the media, stories about the poor service and the lack of service that is being experienced at the Buccament Bay Resort.
“This is giving our tourism industry, our tourism product a black eye and I have not heard anything from the Minister of Tourism with respect to that. This is something that we need to deal with because it is not just a private matter between the employers and the employees or the private situation of a particular company. Our tourism industry also suffers when there is bad publicity, as we are now receiving from the performance of this institution,” said Friday, who is also the opposition’s spokesperson on tourism matters.
He said that Buccament Bay Resort and the Argyle International Airport — which is running five years behind schedule — were both trumpeted as major projects by the Unity Labour Party administration to bring about an economic take off in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Both have failed spectacularly and everyone of us is being made to pay for these failures,” Friday said.
He added: “In the Argyle International Airport project, we pay by the cost that government is having to bear and the reallocation of resources that could be gone to other things that are now being used to continue to fund the airport project.”
Regarding the resort, Friday said the report is that workers have not been paid for over two months.
“And they are being made to pay for the failures of the management of that company. We know that for many of our people these are very difficult times. But our people should not despair. Let us continue to hope, to struggle, to unite, as one; as one Vincy, as one Vincentian people and we will prevail and soon, we will deliver a better life for all of our people, today and into the future,” Friday told listeners to the programme.