Former employees of telecommunications company, Ozone Wireless, who were laid off over a year ago are still awaiting thousands of dollars owed them.
But the “disheartened” group is even more concerned that directors of the company have so far evaded officials from the Labour Department and the judiciary, while continuing to operate a business here.
On Friday, almost a dozen former Ozone employees arrived at the #1 District “A” Magistrates’ court expecting legal proceedings to begin, but were informed it would have to be adjourned until the court could locate the company’s principal, last known to be Pierre McMaster, a French-Canadian.
In February, irate employees told Barbados TODAY they felt betrayed by the company’s “uncaring” and “unprofessional” directors who had left them in the dark about the monies owed to them since May 2018, when they were dismissed.
At the time, they were struggling to make ends meet and CEO, Nicholas Kelly could not be found. However, a St Lucia-based telecommunications consultant, Lester Edwards reached out to Barbados TODAY and promised the monies would be paid by the end of the second quarter this year.
Edwards is now listed as Chairman/CEO of Ozone Network’s Operations on social networking business website, LinkedIn, but he could not be reached for comment.
Following the adjournment of today’s brief hearing at the magistrate’s court, the former employees said they felt neglected by local authorities and the legal system.
“Persons were anxious to have the matter moved forward but at the end of this, the employees are still the ones “out to sea”, a disgruntled ex-employee told Barbados TODAY.
“The Labour department can’t find anything and they are suggesting that the listed offices are closed. So it just seems like a lot of bogus stories and a game of hide and seek, which is really sad.
“The business is still operating, still taking payments and the network is still up. In terms of who owns this business and who is running it, those are all grey areas and I really wish authorities would look into it.
“If you don’t have somebody identified as running the business, how can you have an operator’s licence?” asked the former employee.
The upset ex-worker argued somebody should be able to represent the company and was concerned the overseas-based investors were being allowed to flout the law.
“It’s really hard and employees are wondering how government could allow businesses to be registered and give bogus addresses or addresses where they can’t be found and where a company that is a legal entity cannot be pursued.
“Why do you need to find an individual to pursue it when the company is operating and the company is a legal entity?” asked another. “There are a lot of questions and answers which have not been given.”
Laurison Mayers, the Labour officer, who reportedly took lead on the matter, could not be reached for comment.
Minister of Labour, Colin Jordan said while the matter had not been brought to his attention, if Ozone’s directors had ‘disappeared’, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and/or International Business may have to get involved.
He added because the matter was now sub-judicate, officials would have to be guided by the court.
“If the company is still registered and operating, there are obviously people around who are working for and managing the company,” suggested Jordan.
“We take these types of issues seriously and if there is a report with the Labour Department, we expect the officers to do their work. To this point, I don’t recall that issue being brought to my attention and that means it’s a matter they are working on.” [email protected]