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‘On last legs’

$19 million owed to UCAL by Transport Board, says Sir Roy

A bleak picture has been painted from the floor of this country’s Senate of a company on its last legs; that is owed millions by a Government entity, and being heavily penalized by various departments to the point where one has dragged it before the law courts.

As debate on the 2014-2015 Estimates Of Revenue And Expenditure entered into its third day in the Upper Chamber, Independent Senator Sir Roy Trotman pointed the accusatory finger at the state-owned Transport Board for the problems facing the United Commercial Autoworker Limited – UCAL – of which he was the chairman.

That company was today hit by industrial action, as more than one hundred employees protested the non-payment of salaries.

He told members of the Upper House that when the company was first formed, there was a written arrangement for an exclusive relationship whereby UCAL would be solely responsible for repairing the transport board buses and, in cases where they were unable do so, it would have been up to the auto workers to get the job done according to their contract.

“The truth is that today, we have a situation where every Tom, Dick and Harry and whoever else gets that work that should be done by the UCAL contract with the Transport Board. [As a result] UCAL cannot have enough work to keep its people employed and they are at work every day waiting, because they have to be present when work comes according to the contract . . . being idle, doing no work and therefore not getting paid because they get paid by Transport Board on the basis of invoices submitted.

“All of this is happening where the work is being farmed out to other people in this country who don’t have that contract, and who are not owed 19 plus million dollars. What makes it worse is that Transport Board is a 30 per cent shareholder. so that if UCAL does well, and it is able to report success and make dividends, then the Transport Board gets 30 per cent of the saving,” Sir Roy told the Senate.

The labour boss further lambasted the board, claiming that it was paying other entities as much as $90 an hour for work done on its behalf, while UCAL was only being paid $75 an hour.

Describing what had been allowed to happen under the watch of sucessive Governments as a travesty of justice, Sir Roy suggested that the situation was “now going to cause social upheaval”.

“ . . . Because workers from a poor family, not understanding where to go, or how to go, will turn against anything that comes along and indeed that has been the history of UCAL.

“We have had to suffer flagrant disregard of our exclusivity contract. We have had o suffer from the farming out of our work elsewhere. We have had incidence at the beginning of sabotage.

“We have had to make late VAT payments because, if we don’t get our money, then we can’t pay VAT. We have had to go on overdraft and therefore pay interest and all of this because we have had an arrangement where commitments properly made were not honoured,” he lamented.

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