The Barbados Government said today it cannot promise C.O. Williams Construction any work at this time, even in light of fears by its boss Sir Charles Williams, that they will have to send home employees, if the company did not secure road contracts soon.
The company has already served lay-off notices to all workers, including supervisors and managers. The construction magnate has attributed the pending lay offs to a drop in revenue due to a lack of new work.
During a tour of the East Point Road project being done by competitor, Rayside Construction, Minister of Transport and Works Michael Lashley was asked to comment on the pending layoffs.
Lashley responded that Permanent Secretary, Lionel Nurse, had met with representatives of C.O. Williams on the issue.
“I have instructed the ministry to meet with them, because they have done excellent work in Barbados, and [we] … would have to … facilitate them. (But) I can’t say … yes, we will give them work,” said the minister.
“But of course, the Ministry of Transport and Works will facilitate them. They have packages, and once they bring the packages to us, and the Ministry of Finance agrees with it, we will move ahead.”
Lashley explained that his ministry was open to all players:
“We have met with COW Williams. We have met with representatives — the Ministry of Transport and Works, the permanent secretary. I was at Cabinet … and discussions are ongoing with that company, and I am certain that they will play a role in whatever package the Government is bringing to the country.”
Sir Charles had told Barbados TODAY that his company had made every effort to preserve jobs for as long as possible, but circumstances were now such that layoffs were imminent.
The highway construction guru, who is currently in Trinidad where he will address a meeting of members of the exclusive Clydesdale Club and also receive an award from them tonight, reported that one of the major challenges facing the company, was the many millions it was owed indirectly by the Government.
He said his firm was now owed nearly $20 million, including interest, for work it did for 3S Construction on the ABC Highway ahead of the contract being terminated by the David Thompson Administration immediately after it won the 2008 general elections.
Sir Charles disclosed that before the February elections this year, his company had submitted to Government, a private/public sector partnership project, which if accepted by the present Administration, should help save jobs. C.O Williams employs about 600 people. (EJ)