Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler today made it clear Government would pay United Commercial Autoworks Limited (UCAL) workers any money that it owes them. However when it pays remains uncertain.
This promise came in light of a letter to Sinckler from retired trade unionist Sir Roy Trotman complaining that he was “disappointed and embarrassed beyond words” by the Freundel Stuart administration’s treatment of the more than 150 small shareholders of UCAL.
Barbados TODAY reported last Friday that Sir Roy, a former chairman of UCAL, had voiced his concern in the letter dated June 1, 2016, in which he accused Government of betraying the workers’ trust.
In the letter Sir Roy recalled that in March 2016, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs had indicated it would pay the weekly invoices when UCAL sent them to the Transport Board, and would also reimburse UCAL approximately $22 million, which successive Governments had run up.
Sir Roy also complained that the administration had not paid a promised $1.8 million and had also closed all communications channels.
However, Sinckler told Barbados TODAY Government pays the staff salaries as part of an agreement with UCAL and the administration would meet its obligation as long as it had the funds.
“The Ministry of Finance has given certain assurances [that] as resources are available cash-wise, the Government will settle its obligations to UCAL and that’s just how it is
. . . but in as much as it is money that is owed to UCAL, I know the Government of Barbados, central Government, at least pays the staff salaries already and that is by agreement from before,” Sinckler said, adding that he could not give specifics as to when all payments would be made.
He said he was aware of some concerns regarding the $22 million, but these ought to be resolved by the technical staff.
The minister added that he was due to meet with the Transport Board today for a better grasp of the situation.
“The transport board is responsible for that account and I am actually having a meeting with the transport board officials this evening at 2:30 and I will have a better idea of what is going on as far as that is concerned. But to the extend that that is the case, like all others, if Government owes you, Government has to pay.”
Sinckler refused to discuss Sir Roy’s letter, insisting it was “impossible for me to respond to a letter which I have not seen but the contents of which is contained in a paper even before I have seen it.
“That is not my style and I am not going to respond to it publicly,” the minister added.