The former workers of the now defunct Gymnasium Ltd, the state-owned operator of the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex and the Wildey Gymnasium, are to receive the severance pay the Government owed them when they were dismissed on Friday, Sports Minister John King has said.
“They will receive their monies hopefully by tomorrow,” he said. “The cheques are finished; it is just a matter of transferring funds from one place to the next.”
King said the retrenched workers could be reemployed by the National Sports Council as the layoffs were a technicality in the due process of the merger of the former Gymnasium Ltd with the NSC, which has taken control of the sporting complex and arena.
Last week, the workers of Gymnasium Ltd were given their walking papers from the dissolved agency without any final payments of severance, as required by law.
While weekly paid employees were given two weeks’ pay, others, some of whom were expecting up to $50,000 in severance were in the dark about when they would be getting their funds, when they were handed their termination documents.
Acting general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Delcia Burke had said she was shocked to find out that Government had suddenly dissolved the state enterprise.
But King said: “All that is happening is that the two entities are merging. The process has to be done because one is a statutory board and the other is a Government entity. We have to terminate everybody and then the National Sports Council will reissue contracts to those persons.”
The Minister for the Creative Economy and Culture also announced another casualty of a merger of state agencies – the Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority (BCIDA), which has been merged with the National Cultural Foundation (NCF).
King added: “If you go back prior to 2015, the business development duties that BCIDA carried out were carried out by the Business Development Unit within the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). Business continues as usual. It is a continuum, but it just merges from being a separate entity to being a part of the NCF so all the functions are the same. One position would have been the CEO and we do not need a CEO, as we have a CEO at NCF already.”
A statement issued by BCIDA said the merger was a product of the Barbados Economic Recovery Transformation (BERT) Plan to streamline the management of the cultural industries. The statement also outlined that the office of the Film Commissioner and the business development department would now be located at the National Cultural Foundations Headquarters at West Terrace, St James.