Payment panic

Mount Gay workers fearful after closure of distillery

Barbados and the world’s first and oldest rum distillery has closed its doors, workers are left out of pocket, and a rumoured buyout deal to salvage the 346-year-old company might have fallen through.

Barbados TODAY has found out that following a series of three temporary layoff letters dating back to September 23, last year, workers of Mount Gay Distillery, St Lucy, were on December 18 handed termination notes, immediately halting their employment because the company             was closing.

In spite of the December shut down, workers were living off NIS benefits since receiving the September letter, and have heard nothing more from company directors.

Hopes by workers for payment soon of the compensation in lieu of notice, severance, and gratuity were dashed last Saturday with reports that a long-rumoured buyout deal to salvage the company fell through.

The severed employees believed that the buyout deal would have seen the new owners assuming liabilities of the financially strapped the company, including meeting outstanding payment to the 30 workers. But now some are fearful for even their pensions, as they claim to have unofficially learnt that payment to the two company retirement plans had halted – the first and older plan stopping in 2007 and scheme     in 2010.

“The distillery has been closed since the end of September last year,” managing director Frank Ward told Barbados TODAY. “It has not operated since September last year. The employees were terminated on the 18th, on that date in December . . . . The company has ceased production. We are not officially closed. We have not rounded up operations of   the company. It has ceased production    for the time being, that’s all.”

A letter signed by Ward and given to workers on December 18 read, “Please be advised that the Rum Refinery of Mount Gay Limited has ceased its operations, pending a decision by the shareholders on the future of the company. It is therefore with regret that I must inform you           that your employment by the company is now terminated”.

He told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, “Anything further relating to the affairs of the company, it would be fitting and proper of the company chairman to give it to you”.

Ward said company chairman Brian Wellington, lives in Trinidad and Tobago, and he, the managing director, had no immediately available contact information for the chairman.

Ward confirmed that workers had received no money from the company since their first letter in September 2013, but packages with a number of compensatory benefits were owed to them.

One worker, Winslow Waithe, a senior lab technician who has been with the company for 20 years, said that his NIS allowance will end this month, and he is worried that the company is showing no signs that it will pay on the monies due   to him and colleagues.

Waithe said, “Benefits that I am entitled to would be vacation payment, and payment in lieu of notice, which I haven’t received; and to go along with that, my pension as well, which I haven’t received, as well as severance”.

Mount Gay began in a sugar estate in St Lucy named Mount Gilboa, where a still was established 346 years ago, but despite a 1667 original production the official date of first manufacture of rum for the world was 1703.

9 Responses to Payment panic

  1. Glenda Martin
    Glenda Martin March 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    such a shame for sure.

  2. Robert Holloway
    Robert Holloway March 10, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    This is truly sad for a company of this historical value to be closed. Only recently we read words of the government in protecting ones rum industry. This leaves only Cockspur and Nichols Abby as I have not seen Doorlys for sale here for a very long time. Just utter dismay for workers and the monies owed them plus pensions. One wonders how much of the stock has been sent selling to outside Barbados.. Just plain horrible to hear,, Our favourite rum

  3. Princess Tiny Neferua
    Princess Tiny Neferua March 10, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    Since this public layoff..there have been such a domino affects around Barbados..with workers being laid off here and there..but what is more shameful is that a company that has been around slavery days..don’t have any monies to pay these workers…you owe these people so much more than ain’t even funny..I am sure all the previous and pass owners have gotten wealthy of the blood sweat and tears of the workers..sell the DAM business and pay these workers…shut shop and go home and seek whatever redemption you need to free all ya dam souls..

  4. Jonathan Martindale
    Jonathan Martindale March 10, 2014 at 10:49 pm


  5. Andrew Charles
    Andrew Charles March 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm

    Mount Gay Rum is popular worldwide. 🙁

  6. Duane Harris
    Duane Harris March 11, 2014 at 2:19 am

    Rum is usually aged in a barrel for a few years so you’ll have rum for a few years after they close

  7. Charly Bamboo
    Charly Bamboo March 11, 2014 at 5:21 am

    This is how the black working class are treated in Barbados, People need to wake up and start fighting for their rights.

  8. Cheryl Anne Boyce
    Cheryl Anne Boyce March 11, 2014 at 7:10 am


  9. Ronnie Warren March 11, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Robert Holloway u obviously live in a different country or don’t drive. Foursquare Distillery in St Philip is alive and well and producing Doorlys amongst other brands. Take a drive tomorrow or visit any supermarket.


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