Over two dozen employees at Barbados’ largest multi-sports complex have been sent home with a bitter taste in their mouths after being informed that they would be leaving without severance payment.
After decades of service at the Gymnasium Ltd, workers were suddenly informed on Thursday that the next day would be their last.
The only silver lining on the final day of work for the 35 employees was the thousands of dollars in severance money, which they all expected to receive. Such assurances were however stripped away this afternoon.
Barbados TODAY understands that employees, including general workers, accounting staff, secretaries and security officers were summoned to a meeting and given confirmation from the board of management of their imminent departure.
“You will not be getting your severance today but you will be getting all other documentation,” staff was reportedly informed by an official as they received their termination letters.
“Everybody wants their money and that is obvious, so it’s a little dark cloud over us, but there isn’t much that we can do,” revealed security officer and shop steward, Winfield Ifill.
The 25-year veteran employee disclosed that weekly paid workers were given two weeks’ pay, but the others, some of whom were expecting up to $50,000 in severance were in the dark about when they would be getting their funds.
“We don’t know when we will get the money, because the money has not been transferred from the ministry as yet, but they are saying we will get all of our other documentation.
The process so far has been shrouded in uncertainty.
Acting general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Delcia Burke yesterday said she was shocked to find out that Government had suddenly dissolved the state-owned operator of the Garfield Sobers complex.
The National Sports Council (NSC) is expected to take over the running of the Wildey facility, but the union was unaware that all staff members were being made redundant.
Hours before, workers expressed shock at the sudden turn of events, but took comfort in the fact that they would be paid all outstanding monies.
“I don’t have any heartache over it. They will pay me out and I am going to go home happy. If I was going home without any money, then I would be very unhappy,” said a general worker of 15 years.
General Manager, Barbara Bostic offered no comment on the matter, but directed Barbados TODAY to the Ministry of Creative Economy, Youth and Sports. Efforts to reach Minister John King were unsuccessful.
Throughout the day, the news of sudden retrenchment was slowly setting in and the consensus was one of acceptance.
“We all knew from the previous administration that there would have been cuts, but we didn’t expect that everybody would have been cut like that. After elections we all understood that we would be undergoing a structural adjustment programme and we were preparing for some to leave, but just not all of us,” Ifill said.
The news comes just one week after 85 longtime employees of the state-run transport board accepted early retirement and voluntary separation packages as part of Government’s efforts to restructure the operation and make it more viable.
Others like maintenance worker, Julian Searles reminisced on the many years spent at the organisation.
“It has been a wonderful experience which allowed me to meet new people everyday,” said Searles, who worked for 25 years at the company.
“My most memorable times were with the staff. Everybody was like a family and that is what I enjoyed most. It’s going to be sad to go, but the reality is that we have to go.”
Gracie Jones, a general worker was cleaning the floor for the final time on the eastern side of the Gymnasium.
“Sometimes it used to be extremely hectic if we had to prepare for back-to-back shows and events, but it was also enjoyable.
“We worked and laughed and we are like a little family here so I know we all will miss each other,” said Jones.