Kensington Oval workers demand monies owed
The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) wants a meeting with Kensington Oval Management Inc. (KOMI) to persuade the company to pay some $60,000 in outstanding monies owed to about half of its over 20 employees.
Just after 11 o’clock this morning seven workers walked off the job, complaing they have had to wait seven years for their back pay.
However, the authorities described the protest as premature and gave the assurance that the matter “has been taken care of”.
The placard-carrying workers told Barbados TODAY they decided to protest after management sent an email to one of the workers advising that this employee would receive half of what was owed.
The upset workers complained that management were given the go-ahead to pay them all of their monies but they were yet to receive any payment, and they believed they had given KOMI “enough time” to settle the debt.
“We had to stage this protest on the fact that the company, KOMI, owed some retroactive payment since 2008 that the board had already signed off on. Since then, over a period of time we kept asking about it day after day and month after month and it keep getting put back. Up to this morning we asked about it and they said they have other commitments to be made,” said maintenance supervisor Winston Reid, the spokesman for the protesting workers.
“What made things even worse is that an email went out to one of the staff saying that they will pay one of them half the monies and not anybody else. That was the final straw. All of us are to get it or none of us at all, but we need all. The board had already signed off on it and all it needs now is for the CEO to sign on the dotted line and let us get our monies,” insisted Reid, pointing out that about nine or ten staff were owed.
And Reid said they were prepared to show up for work every day and “stay out here until our needs are met”.
Accounts officer Stephney Smith said for the last two months they were being told that they would receive the monies at the end of the month, but they were still waiting.
“Yesterday we asked about it in a meeting and we were told they have no idea when it would be paid because they have other pressing bills to be paid, but ours are pressing too,” said smith.
The acting chief executive officer of KOMI Ben Toppin referred Barbados TODAY to Ruth Blackman,the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture, which has responsibility for the entity.
Blackman told Barbados TODAY she was aware that “there was an issue with back pay” that predated her ministry “but rest assured that problem will be no more. That is all I am going to say.”
When pressed to say when the workers could expect a payment, she would only say “the problem will be no more. That problem has been taken care of. It is just that some persons acted prematurely”.