Jael Matthews, a mother of three, has not been paid a cent in severance three years after she was laid off from KFC. (Photo: Jael Matthews/Facebook)

A former employee of KFC (St Vincent) Ltd., then a subsidiary of St. Clair Investment, is using the occasion of International Workers’ Day – today, May 1 — to remind the nation that she and her former co-workers are still awaiting severance payment, three years after being laid off.

Some 100 workers were placed on the breadline on March 9, 2015, when receivers took over and closed the doors of the then three KFC outlets in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Later that same year, Yum Restaurants Inc., the new holders of the KFC franchise, did not re-hire many of the former KFC employees, although many of them were among the hundreds of persons who turned up for interviews in June 2015.

And, among those still waiting expectantly for their severance payment is Jael Matthews, a 36-year-old mother of three, who worked at the restaurant for seven years.

“The only money I received when they closed was the fortnight’s pay. I didn’t collect any holiday pay, any severance. I didn’t collect anything,” Matthews told iWitness News on Monday, the eve of the workers’ day holiday.

“Sometimes, I try not to think about it. And when I do think about it, it upsets me to see I have children to feed and right now things are hard, jobs out there are hard to find and nobody is looking into the matter,” said the mother of 17-, 14- and 6-year-old children.

Matthews said that an aunt in the United States has set up a small business in St. Vincent of which she (Matthews) is in charge.

“But things are always good or turn out to be good. Sometimes, it is slow,” she told iWitness News.

“So those kinds of things frustrate me sometimes. And besides, I have my kids to send to school.”

She said the last thing she heard was about some legal proceedings in which the Labour Department might have been involved on behalf of workers.

“I don’t really understand fully,” Matthews said.

She, however, told iWitness News that she is hoping to be paid.

“I always hope that someday it will come through. I have never really given up because I worked really hard and it is hard to see I am going to leave all those years down there and I used to have to hustle day and night in hot and cold. It is hard sometimes when you sit down and study it,” the Campden Park woman said.

She told iWitness News that she worked at the former KFC depot in Campden Park, where workers cleaned and marinated chicken.

However, management moved the depots to the outlets in Kingstown and Arnos Vale.

Matthews completed the application process when Yum Restaurants took over the KFC franchise and had an “open call for vacancies” in June 2015.

However, she only got a part-time job for the Vincy Mas 2015 after she went to inquire about a job to help to buy her children’s books.

The former KFC worker said she does not know how much money she should be getting as a severance package.

“All I know I looking for my years that I was there and my holiday pay because I didn’t get any holiday at the time. I was supposed to go on vacation in August.”

She said that she was also speaking on behalf of other former employees who are in a similar situation.

“I am not putting this out for myself only. It is for the other workers who worked with me also so that the public can know what is going on because since we were laid off, everybody is on a shutdown; nobody is talking about it or considering it or anything.

“When we, former co-workers meet up, we talk about it. It is kind of hard,” Matthews told iWitness News.

12 replies on “Former KFC worker issues reminder about severance pay”

  1. The words cent, scent, and sent are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings. The noun cent refers to a coin equal to the hundredth part of a dollar: a penny. As both a noun and a verb, scent refers to an odor or the sense of smell. Sent is the past and past-participle form of the verb to send

    1. C. ben-David says:

      In our British-derived culture, a penny is two cents. If that doesn’t make sense to you, then it reveals your youth.

      And you forgot to mention ”sensi” as in sensimilla.

  2. Duke DeArment says:

    Most countries do not have severance pay. That does not mean I do not think these people should not get it. The problem is that a business usually closes due to economic reasons. Severance pay means the owner has to have a huge sum of money somewhere to dole out to all the permanent employees, beyond any wages and retirement. It would mean the owner will have to take out a large loan and go heavily into debt. To me that seems to be a good way to discourage entrepreneurs from employing people or starting a business in Saint Vincent. Maybe someone in government should think about amending these laws. Unfortunately, making things better is not what we do in SVG. In that area we are too conservative. We never get around to making policy improvements; that is one of the reasons we are far behind other countries. See our very unfair “concessionary” system instead of a meritocracy. See our backward liable laws. The list goes on and on. We seem to be afraid of making changes for the better.

    1. C. ben-David says:

      I may be wrong but I believe that in poor country like ours the severance package here was something voluntarily given by the employer as opposed to mandated by law.

  3. C. ben-David says:

    The person to ask about all this is Ken Boyea, the former franchisee of three KFC outlets who may now be in bankruptcy proceedings.

    As with Buccament Bay Resort, the law says that its secured creditors are first in line to get paid when a company goes bankrupt. Often there is little or nothing left to distribute to former unpaid workers after the secured creditors (such as banks who lent money to the franchisee or business owner) are paid.

    As for former workers like this woman, they are usually at the back of a long line of people owed money.

    This may not appear fair but there are many laws that, on the surface, appear unfair. But what bank would lend money to a new or expanding business without demanding some security in return for a loan default? Who among us could get a mortgage loan to build a new house without the lender demanding that the house is legally theirs if the loan is not paid off in the absence of other security? In such a case, any other debts such as paying workers who did some house repair would stand far behind the bank in getting monies owed to them.

    More particularly, Yum Restaurants, holders of a new franchise, owes the former workers nothing: neither their old job back nor monies owed to them by St. Clair Investment whose franchise was revoked by KFC headquarters.

    1. C- Ben, without facts is it fair to say that the new franchise holders cannot be liable for payment of severances? I have done many commercial contracts, where one of the terms is that the new “owner” will assume all the debts and liabilities of the former owner.

      This is a customary contract term albeit I do not know if it is applicable in these circumstances.

  4. average joe says:

    When was the last time anyone apply for job in SVG and read and sign a contract? Most people just glad to get a ‘wuk’,so they just show up Monday morning hoping they last at this job as long as they can.It is after they get the boot or thing goes bad with the business you hear about all this.
    Ask many vincy whats there term of work? simple things…. like ‘after how many hours do you start to get paid as over time?’
    If you work on public holiday does your wages for that day increases and by how much? Do they receive a pay,and if so can they read it to know if if correct?……just saying

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