Employees at the United Commercial Autoworks Ltd (UCAL) have strengthened their resolve to stay off the job for a fourth consecutive day, even as an Opposition member today demanded that they be paid outstanding monies.
The workers, who held an hour-long meeting with deputy chairman of UCAL, attorney-at-law Hilford Murrell, are now making two demands – that the Transport Board commit to a deadline for the payment of $3.7 million and guarantee more work for employees.
That position was expected to be communicated to chairman of the Transport Board Anthony Wiltshire by Murrell sometime today.
However, up to the time of going to Press there was no indication that meeting had been held.
“The deputy chairman is expected to get back to us following a meeting with the chairman of the Transport Board,” said shop steward and company director Richard Newton.
“We want a commitment from the Transport Board guaranteeing UCAL more work and a date when we will be receiving our money to keep the operations running until the end of the financial year in March 2015.
“We received our wages today. We want the $3.7 million promised to cover the operations until the end of the financial year, cover our overdraft, and cover backpay the company owes the workers from 2007. The workers are owed $1.3 million in backpay from 2007. The company cannot pay the backpay because it does not have any money to pay.”
Meantime, Opposition spokesperson on Transport Dwight Sutherland has blasted Government’s handling of the matter, claiming that UCAL employees had “become victims of a poorly run operation at the Transport Board, bad governance and indecisiveness”.
The Member of Parliament argued that the workers must be paid and given a fair opportunity, like other providers, to carry out maintenance works at the Transport Board.
“Evidence is there to show that in-house maintenance operations will not profit the Transport Board yet Government is now boasting on setting up an in-house quality assurance department after seven years in office and seems focused on returning to in-house maintenance operations at the Transport Board. How effective this would be is left to be seen,” Sutherland said during a media conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
“We need to hear from him (Minister Michael Lashley) and the rest of his Cabinet colleagues on how monies will be raised to pay UCAL and the Transport Board workers that were severed in March 2014. UCAL has complained that the Government has outsourced more and more work at their expense and the question must be asked why Government is leaving them stranded but ensuring that a few private service providers are now benefitting.”
Yesterday, the minister of transport took issue with the action taken by UCAL, warning that neither the Transport Authority nor the traveling public would be held to ransom.