Senior UCAL official gets walking papers
Operations at the United Commercial Autoworks Ltd (UCAL) could grind to a halt on Monday morning, as the over 100 employees plan to down tools to protest against Friday’s dismissal of Director and Shift Foreman Richard Newton.
Barbados TODAY was informed that on Tuesday August 16, the Board of Directors of UCAL met and took a decision in Newton’s absence to give him his walking papers with immediate effect.
Newton, who at the inception of the company had invested $5,000, complained that he had not been given an opportunity to present his side of the case, but was handed his dismissal letter today on his return from vacation leave.
In the termination letter dated August 16, 2016, and signed by Managing Director Frederick Gittens, the shift foreman was accused of receiving money from the entity under false pretences.
“It has only now come to the attention of the Management of UCAL that over a number of years you have been unlawfully and improperly submitting claims and receiving payment for overtime work by your department,” Gittens wrote.
The letter went on to say that UCAL had called in the Fraud Squad of the Royal Barbados Police Force to conduct a full investigation into the matter.
It warned that following the police investigation, UCAL will instruct its attorneys to pursue whatever avenues available to recover whatever sums of money had been secured beyond Newton’s fair payments in wages.
The UCAL board claimed that Newton had dishonoured the confidence which the company placed in him as a senior employee, had abused his office of supervisor by diverting funds to his personal account and had breached the terms of his contract by making false claims for payment.
It charged that the longstanding employee had terminated his contract of employment with UCAL by his action.
The letter concluded by saying that the company had no alternative but to dismiss Newton for cause with immediate effect.
Reacting to his dismissal and the charges brought against him, Newton said he was on holiday and the Board of Directors held a meeting on Tuesday, August 16 at which it decided to fire him.
Newton added that upon returning to work this morning, the managing director summoned him to his office and handed him a letter of dismissal without a hearing.
At the same time, he protested his innocence, telling Barbados TODAY the charges made no sense.
“I do not work in the accounts department; I work overtime and every month the accounts clerk comes and ask me how many days I worked and they pay me. The accountant knows, the accounts clerk knows and the workshop manager external works knows,” Newton said.
“The managing director said he does not know. I would have to have a plant in accounts giving me money I did not work for. That is the only way that I can divert UCAL funds to my personal account. How could I divert UCAL funds to my personal account?”
Newton complained that he was a shift foreman who worked hard, even washing buses that were to be worked on, and that was the thanks he got from the company.
Barbados Workers Union delegate in the UCAL division John Jones contended that Newton’s dismissal was high-handed. Yet, he charged, other workers who were in breach of the company’s code of conduct were treated with kid gloves.
“The Board has dismissed Newton without a hearing, but every man deserves a hearing. A man is innocent until proven guilty and according to the laws of Barbados Newton deserves that right,” Jones said.
When contacted UCAL Chairman Sir Roy Trotman declined to comment, saying it would not be proper to do so while the matter was under investigation.
“It would be highly improper for me to comment since the Fraud Squad of the Royal Barbados Police Force is investigating the matter,” Sir Roy told Barbados TODAY.