Less than a month after the red caps service at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) moved to a new level with the launch of the Platinum Airport Porter Service, the 60 workers are accusing management of GAIA of treating them worse than animals.
They say they have been given until month-end to get out of the current accommodation provided for them by the Shelly Williams-led Platinum Services Limited, which was recently awarded the contract to manage them.
Before that, the workers said they were forced to use a rat and human faeces-infested container with a ceiling that was about to fall, as their lunchroom.
However, after taking over the contact, Williams, the wife of prominent businessman Ralph Bizzy Williams, reportedly invested about $20,000 to refurbish and transform the old minimart at the airport into a classy air conditioned lounge that not only accommodates the red caps and their luggage trollies in a separate, adjoining space, but other staff and custodians who offer other luxury airport services at GAIA.
Suggesting that it was “the best thing” that ever happened to them, the workers complained that the airport’s management was now seeking to “push” them into a cramped room with no air conditioning, electric wiring or plumbing.
Barbados TODAY visited both spaces today and was able to observe first-hand the workers’ concerns.
Chesterfield Black Rock Gibson, who has been a red cap for 31 years, said the treatment he has been getting from Platinum Services Limited was the best he has ever had.
“They [GAIA management] had us in a lunchroom down there. It is a container, full of rat mess, human mess and a lot of rotten wood and all the ceiling dropping down. And this is the best time we getting treat,” Gibson emphasized.
Another red cap, Beresford Phillips, also sang the praises of Platinum Services.
“For all my 40 years, this is the best time I have ever been treated. I never got treated the way that Mrs Williams treating us,” Phillips said, while accusing GAIA of bad treatment.
“Them people don’t care anything about the red caps. The red caps pay money every day to use the luggage trollies and I complained that they need repairing and management tell me, ‘the airport don’t make any money off the red caps,’” Phillips claimed, adding that if it were not for Williams the trollies would never have been repaired.
His position was supported by Victoria Whittaker who contended that the airport management’s decision to relocate them to less commodious facilities was an indication that they felt the red caps were not good enough to enjoy their existing luxury.
Today, Williams confirmed that Platinum Services had been given a deadline to relocate, and even though she admitted that the company had only been given temporary permission to use the current space, she said she had applied for permanent usage with the intention of paying any “reasonable” additional costs so her staff, and the red caps, could enjoy proper facilities befitting the luxury service they offer at the airport.
When Barbados TODAY reached out to GAIA Acting Chief Executive Officer Neville Boxhill he declined to comment, saying he was not aware of any contentious issues affecting the red caps.
However, the workers said they had heard through the grapevine that the former minimart space was being allocated to a luxury hotel for use as a lounge.