Caves of Barbados Limited has paid out over $3 million in benefits to former employees of Harrison Cave.
This was revealed today by Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, who said close to $2.5 million of that was severance payments.
Symmonds disclosed the details after Opposition Leader Reverend Joseph Atherley raised some questions related to the operations of Harrison’s Cave during debate in Parliament on the Grantley Adams International Airport (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
The minister said only three members of staff did not qualify for severance due to the length of their service.
All employees at Harrison Cave were made redundant following Government’s decision last year to award Jamaican company Chukka Caribbean Adventures a 25-year lease to manage the operations of the Cave.
Chief executive officer of Chukka Caribbean Adventures, Marc Melville, has maintained that more than 60 per cent of those workers have been rehired.
“The staff at Caves of Barbados was officially severed on October 31, 2020. All members of staff have been paid their severance. There is one set of circumstances where there is a person who was certified to be medically unfit, I believe the date of that certification was October 30, 2020, and that person was retired under special conditions given their circumstances,” Symmonds said.
“The severance payments bill for the Caves of Barbados is $2,411,409, and all of those who qualified for severance have been paid. When you add in vacation pay and other considerations of that nature the Caves has paid out $3,044,628 to its employees.”
A planned $9 million renovation of the St Thomas tourist attraction has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the Cave is set to reopen on July 2.
Symmonds said at present there was a small staff complement at the attraction working to ensure the reopening would be a smooth undertaking.
“At present, there is a skeleton staff employed at the Cave, persons taken from the accounts department, admin and the operations department who are on short-term contracts and their purpose for being there is to make sure that there is a smooth and efficient transition to the new operators,” he said.