Pestco workers unhappy at lack of severance pay


Tribune Freeport Reporter


ABOUT ten disgruntled employees at Pestco Maintenance & Supply Co Ltd and Verified Services Bahamas have not received their severance pay more than a year after the establishments closed.

The employees’ length of service range from seven to 40 years. They are currently receiving unemployment benefits from the National Insurance Board.

“We are frustrated because it’s been 19 months since we have been unemployed, and we have not received our severance pay from the company,” said Charmaine Francis.

Ms Francis, one of six full-time workers at Pestco, has put in seven years of service with the company. There was also one contracted worker and three full-time employees at Verified Services Bahamas.

Pestco and Verified Services were among the businesses in Freeport devastated during Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. The businesses reopened in October, but closed in March following the government-imposed lockdown and shutdown of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Ms Francis, when staff inquired whether the business had closed, their employer assured them they were not closed, but did not provide them with any timeline as to when they would reopen.

“They left us high and dry...” she said in a statement.

She claimed the employers were never direct about when or if the company would reopen. They were told to collect the NIB forms at the office and fill them out so they could receive unemployment benefits.

Ms Francis indicated that staff are upset because they have given many years of loyal service.

“We were like a family and we feel like we were discarded,” she said.

“The majority of the staff members have been with the company over 30-plus years and some for 40 years,” she said. “We only found out that the company had officially closed its doors when we went to the Department of Labour in May this year.”

Meetings were scheduled at the Department of Labour, but the employers reportedly did not show up, The Tribune was told.

“She has said that she has no money to pay us,” claimed Ms Francis.

We want our severance pay. We are upset and disappointed, and never expected that (we) would be treated like this by our employer.”

The employee claimed they were informed that the employer is selling the property and that they would have to wait.

“This is totally unfair to us… and how we are being treated after giving all those years of faithful service,” she said.

“Why do we have to wait for them to sell off their assets? We need our monies. I am just in disbelief that the employer has chosen to handle staff members in such an unprofessional and uncaring manner,” Ms Francis said.

The two companies are both run by the same family. Attempts were made to reach company officials at Pestco, however, the telephone number was no longer in service.

Yesterday, an official at the Department of Labour confirmed that ten employees at Pestco and Verified Services Bahamas are seeking severance pay. He said the department is preparing the matter for referral.

The official stated that two employees have come in and signed for the matter to be referred, but they are still awaiting for the other workers to come in and sign.

The officer said once all employees have signed, an official request will be sent to the Minister of Labour, who has the authority to refer the matter to the Industrial Tribunal.


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