Opposition leader Mia Mottley has accused the Freundel Stuart administration of paying “political lip service” to the United Commercial Auto Workers Limited whose staff have not been paid in at least two weeks.
Addressing the Christ Church East branch of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) last night following the nomination of Wilfred Abrahams as the party’s candidate in the next general elections, Mottley charged that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government neglected UCAL workers because it did not care about them.
“They deliver political lip service; there is no genuine care and consideration . . . How many times in the last year did you see them go into meetings with the minister and promises made that the money will be paid?” she asked.
The BLP leader contended that Government’s priorities were misplaced, pointing to the yet unoccupied Grotto Housing Units as proof.
“But what we saw instead was a Government break the law and take $30 million out of the Housing Credit Fund and pay to one entity for building the Grotto Housing Units which is only occupied by three-foot bush and mosquitoes, having been finished more than 15 months ago.”
Government is UCAL’s main customer and its rising debt to the vehicle repair company has placed UCAL in a cash flow crunch. The financial situation was compounded when, two months ago, the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) garnished monies that should have been paid to it by the Transport Board and the Ministry of Finance because the auto repair company was not up-to-date with its own payments to NIS on behalf of workers.
Mottley and other BLP members have contended that while UCAL owes the NIS just under $3 million, Government and Transport Board owe it some $22 million.
During a UCAL strike demanding payment from the Transport Board in September of last year, the mechanical company’s managing director Frederick Gittens told Barbados TODAY that the Transport Board’s non-payment was making it difficult for UCAL to meet its financial obligations, apart from paying it staff. (GA)