LIME workers sent home

by Enmanuel Joseph

LIME has sent home 97 workers from its retail business.

LIME boss Alex McDonald addresses layoff issue this evening.

Chief Executive Officer Alex McDonald told an “emergency” news conference at Courtyard Marriott in Christ Church this evening that the employees would be made redundant with immediate effect.

McDonald explained that the company had signalled its intention to take the action as far back as August and had gone through the process of holding talks with the Barbados Workers Union, the Chief Labour Officer and the social partnership on the matter.

“The issue that separated our company and the union was that there was a belief that there are matters that we needed to deal with that were outstanding for a while. Our view is that those matters we could have dealt with; and we could also deal with in parallel, the hard commercial decisions that we needed to take,” he stated.

“I don’t think in this day and age we can deal with things in a linear way, we have to be able to deal with things in a parallel. Our view was, we had the capacity and we still do, to deal with any issue, even if it’s outstanding for a while.

“But the driving force that will shut the business down or keep it open is our ability to manage our customers’ views, to deliver customer service of a high quality and to manage the cost of doing so.”

He said no settlement had been reached with the BWU and the company had to take its hard, but necessary decision.

The CEO also pointed out that the union told them if they wanted to address the redundancies first, the workers would have to be given an enhanced package. McDonald said any enhanced package was unacceptable, considering the employees were already being offered a good severance pay out.

The company boss told reporters LIME was now at a stage where its survival and viability depended on the quality of its customer service even more than before. He suggested that its decision to lay off the workers was based on a need to remain in business by getting out of retailing, a function which it was not good at and instead, sub-contract it to others who were better qualified to do the job.

McDonald also admitted that the cost of running the retail stores was rising, while the company’s profits and customer service quality were declining. He said, too, that the emerging competition on the local telecoms market was also introducing a high level of technology and other business techniques that forced it to try to keep up for the sake of its life.

In further spelling out the reasons for laying off the nearly 100 workers, McDonald explained that there were a number of projects in which some were involved which were coming to an end, leaving them with no more work, while at the same time, new technological ways of doing business were being introduced.

For excample, he pointed out, some employees who may have been keying in information, were now faced with a situation where the telecoms giant would be implementing scanning. McDonald said he hope the union would not take any industrial action, but if it did, there were contingency plans in place to counter it.

However, he noted that LIME was ready and willing to continue negotiations in an effort to resolve the issue. He acknowledged that while it was not easy to send home the workers, the company had to think about the future of the larger 648 staff at the company.

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