Then-workers at Buccament Bay Resort make their point during a protest over non-payment of wages on Dec. 3, 2016. Opposition Leader Godwin Friday says that the money owed to the workers should be given to them from Harlequin’s share of the resort sale deal. l(IWN photo)

Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday says that the government should be responsible for paying wages, salaries and severance payments owed to former employees of the former Buccament Bay Resort.

“The government buying it (the resort), the government should be responsible. That is my view,” Friday said on his weekly programme on NICE Radio this past week.

He said that in its negotiations with Harlequin, the former owners of the resort, the government should have discounted from the amount of money to be given to Harlequin what is owed to the former workers and other service providers.

“The question is: who bears that obligation? I think the government, as a buyer, that is something they should have negotiated with Harlequin to say, ‘Well, okay, here is the price that you’re getting, we have to discount it by X amount of money because this amount will then have to go to those persons whom you owed. There are various ways you can address it in a negotiation,” the opposition leader said on his weekly programme on NICE Radio. 

“But to say that somehow you’re not responsible, that those people — no legal obligation exists because of what? Somebody benefited from the services that those workers provided, those suppliers provided, somebody benefits from not having to pay severance pay as the law requires. So, if somebody has benefited, why it is the people who have lost have no redress. It can’t be right, it can’t be just; it can’t be fair.”

The government has acquired the resort, which has been closed since December 2016 and is selling it to Sandals Resort International.

“They’re buying the property from the various people,” Friday said, adding that the government, therefore, has an obligation to pay persons who were owed, including truckers and other service providers.

“… that can’t just be brushed aside and say well, ‘Ok. Sorry. Your loss.’ These are ordinary people, poor people,” the opposition leader said.

He, however, noted that the government has not accepted this liability.

“They’re simply saying that out of the goodness of our heart, we will try and see if we could find something — if in the money that we getting from Sandals, there’s something left over.”

The opposition leader said that it seems a common thread with the Unity labour Party administration that the poor get shafted because their voice is not loud enough.

“… but it gets louder as election day approaches,” Friday said, adding that he hopes his comments would cause the government, in this election season, to see his point.

“Because what I want most and foremost is for the people who have lost in this bargain that they be given, and I’m talking to local workers, and suppliers, that they’ll be given their just compensation,” Friday said.

He said that UK investors in the resort have gotten back 33% of their investment.

“But the workers here are getting zero and nobody feels obliged or legally bound to do anything about it. It’s just a matter of, you know, if we can or if we feel like it or if we find something, we get something. That’s not how it works, you know, when people work for you, they’re supposed to get paid.

The opposition leader said he had intimated that at the very least, if there is money that is made in the transaction, the government “shouldn’t pocket it, they should give it to the people who were owed money from the developers who were there — Harlequin — before and make sure that they get something from it.

“But more than that, that is not to say that there was no greater responsibility. The government ought to make sure that those people are paid. I mean, these are ordinary people who put in their service there. Some of them work and ain’t get paid, some of them their severance pay.”

The opposition leader, who is a lawyer, noted that the government had taken offence at the position of Jomo Thomas, a lawyer social commentator and former speaker of the house of assembly, who argued that the government had a legal obligation to the former employees.

“I agree with that,” Friday said of Thomas’ position.

16 replies on “Subtract ex-workers pay from Harlequin’s share of resort deal — Friday”

  1. Nathan Jolly Green says:

    But Harlequin will get nothing, there is nothing left for them either. Why not take the money owed to the employers from KPMG’s fees seeing as they did such a dismal job.

  2. Nathan Jolly Green says:

    The government can easily pay the people, they are selling the beach-side land that they own, so they have a million or two to play with.

  3. Legitimacy and unquestionable morality must be the hallmark of any responsible government and this regime appears to be lacking in both. Therefore, may one repeat a statement made previously, namely, that “the British had granted Vincentians their emancipation but slavery has become an acceptable way of life here. This slave mentality of ours unfortunately continues to bedevil us!

    Without true legitimacy or even discernible morality, it could be so easy for the issue of those unpaid wages and loss of payment for the goods and services supplied to the former “Buccament Bay Resort” to be ignored by our government regime. After all, are we not “the wretched of the earth?” Who cares about us?

    Yet not all peoples of African descent, pressed into slavery, had accepted their lot as we so willing have done. I am reminded of that Japanese Samurai, Ya suke and his rise from slave to Samurai, (Ya suke: Story of the African Samurai in Japan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RZaHgXEhJ4)

    Moreover, Vincentians have been so sadly indoctrinated into servitude, that we with our collective unconsciousness, have seemingly endorsed that 18th Century European idea of “European supremacy”, and thus finds it profoundly difficult to let go of our Master/Servant relationships.

    Indeed this was not so with another once enslaved African in India, one who became known as Malik Ambar. As with many slaves who were taken to India or who migrated there, freedom and self-worth remained a fundamental issue, unlike today’s Vincentians who only chin-wag about freedom.
    Malik Ambar: African King in the Heart of India https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY9RIGEWD_o

    Thus, when will we as Vincentians come to terms with the fact that there is “no freedom” in a totalitarian state, only government interest? That freedom has a price which we need to pay. That we need to stop just chin-wagging about freedom and emancipation and thus get on with throwing off the yoke of oppression and pay that price whatever it may be, for our true freedom?

    Another election here, due soon, riddled with “material bribes” and the likes, can only prolongs our enslavement, continue to make fools of us, and entrench our inability to rise above that captive Slave/Master relationships.

    Our questionable government for sure, will seemingly only look out for themselves and bring us nothing but platitudes, clichés about society and workers interest, just for their obviously flawed election objectives. Indeed, both the French and the Americans of recent times, knew and have paid the price for their now enduring freedoms, when will we Vincentians come to terms with ours?

    1. It seams like most Caribbean islands and their people’s including svg have some sort of inferior complex islands that are predominantly black seams to think if a red man or Ecky-Becky is not leading them, still looking for a Masa to look after them with whip in hand the people of svg better wake up quickly n open they eyes.

  4. It is in large part the fault of government for letting Dave Ames set up in SVG. Maybe those that allowed it and did nothing to stop it should pay. But remember the government has no money. It is our money they would be using. It is the same with LIAT workers. Any payment they would get because of how wrongly the profits were used, will again be paid by we the people.
    We should maybe at this time look into WHY virtually everything in SVG fails. OBVIOUSLY, unless failing companies is the objective, a new economic philosophy is needed. We all know how expensive it “was” to fly LIAT, or to fly at all in the country and region. Why is that? Who gets all that money and profit at the expense of the people?
    There is some very poor money management in many areas in SVG and the taxes, duties and fees are often WAY TOO HIGH. Besides Ivan O’Neal, is there any other politician that cares about this?

  5. Kendol gibson says:

    How can you get clean clear title when there are secure and unsecure debt liens an in cumbancies!

    Look all judgement and liens must be settle before a transfer and change of hands of any property that real estate law ( clean ckear title deed).

    1. Nathan Jolly Green says:

      Kendol my understanding from an American group who had a secure lien ordered by a judge in a court, a court order to that fact. I am told by them that the liquidator has told them he denies their claim despite the court order. That means they must sue the liquidators or KPMG for disallowing their court ordered award and selling to the government. But regardless they have been unable to stop the property from passing , something is seriously stinking about this whole matter.

      As for a group of companies, something seriously wrong here also. If the companies have common ownership, common directors, similar names, they are classed as closely associated companies and should be treated as one, not a whole set of individuals.

  6. It’s about time that someone with the power stick speak up and support the Vincentian workers rights and need for just and fair compensation for their hard worker. These workers are treated as if they are in some type of modern day slavery and servitude. Your Prime Minister is old […] and looney. It is difficult to gasp that some Vincentian is saying that this sick, old, overweight and dying man does not need to
    relinquish power. Ralph need to step down ASAP for the good of the party and for the good of SVG.

  7. This is why I have such disdain for politicians and Unions that is embedded with the government
    Why would honest hard working people in SVG pay union dues and getting no representation
    those farmer workers need representation they are not going to get it from government or the unions
    who’s going to step up and fight for them ?.

  8. The Trustee and the ULP government has taken the position that all of the Harlequin Companies are separate Corporations. Each corporation would then have an arms length agreement with each other Harlequin corporation they do business with. This would then determine the amount of funds owing the management corporation from the land holding corporation. Each different corporation would then have a separate banking account and separate accounting records. If not then the Harlequin group of companies are one corporation with separate divisions.

  9. When I refer to a Ponzi scheme it has it bearing on some folks profiting from the labour of others and very seldom are payed for the investment – whether it’s work or money. This is the scenario we are witnessing here with this Sandals deal.
    This also includes the farmers whose lands are being stolen and they have very little to say about the deal Camillo – that foreigner is offering.
    The ULP and several departments are nothing but Ponzi schemes. The water and electricity department falls into that category. Folks are paying an environmental tax and the entire country stinks, roads are in terrible shape, beaches are nothing but a dodo hole.
    Vincentians need to remove this government. They should not depend on COVID to do the job.
    The teachers are another set of people the ULP has been BOWLING for years and they can’t get together and demand Justice . WHEN WILL THIS END?

    1. Skeckpalmer, Often we have certain things we disagree on, as I do with many others. Most of all of us agree however, on acknowledgement that changes are needed. In many of the areas of “policy infrastructure” it seems that the NDP proposes these changes and the ULP continues policy that guarantees poverty and all that goes with it, to include bad roads heavy taxes that cause failing companies.

      Can the NDP or anyone show us a more viable policy that will improve SVG? I see problems with NDP policy as well. Will we ever see a candidate with a plan with more guarantee to lead us out of the ever-increasing darkness that keeps us perpetually going NOWHERE?

  10. It is a customary practice for investors and large companies to utilise weaknesses in our laws and complex asset management strategies to safeguard their investments at all cost. In an era where business ethics is almost non-existent, it is the responsibility of our government to ensure that our company laws, our labour laws and our employment laws and practices are frequently updated to close those loop holes that investors seek to exploit.

    In most cases there are no distinction between the company that owns the asset and the company that manages the asset, save-and-except that the two are separate legal entities. Invariably, the shareholders are one-of-the-same.

    This type of asset management strategy is done precisely to prevent employees from going after the assets of their employers to settle unpaid salaries, wages and severance payment should the investment goes belly-up.

    If the owners of the hotel was selling the property to Sandals through a direct sale, then the employees would have had an uphill legal battle to recover any unpaid or outstanding moneys because they were employed by the management company who does not own the asset that is been sold.

    I am almost certain that the government did not compulsorily acquire the management company but would have acquired the company that owns the assets of the defunct hotel. (Please correct me if I’m wrong)

    The government will then make the claim that they are not legal obligated to pay the severed workers because they were not employed by the company that owned the assets that the government is selling to Sandals.

    However, there is a thin line between that which is legal and that which is moral, ethical, just, reasonable and humane.

    It is my humble opinion that the government should take the lead and invite the former owners of the hotel to the negotiating table to settle outstanding salaries, wages and severance payments to the former employees before the government transfers any residual funds from the sale of the hotel to the former owners.

    The benefits that are due to employees as a result of their hard labour are sacrosanct and should be treated as such.

    It is never too late to do that which is right in the interest of the workers and in the interest of citizens of your country!!!

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