The organisation closed its doors reportedly abruptly on the afternoon of Wednesday, 30th March, 2011 effectively placing 131 individuals on the breadline.
According to a press release issued by CUOPM, Deputy Prime Minister Condor has denounced this move and explained that a portion of the Federation’s Labour Laws was violated.
“The action of Clear Harbour (Nevis) Ltd, to close its operations in minutes constitutes a clear breach of Section 7- Notice of Termination of Employment (3) of the Protection of Employment Act and subsidiary legislation as contained in Chapter 18:27,” Condor expressed to the St. Kitts and Nevis Parliament this morning (31st March).
Clear Harbour Nevis Ltd is the executing agency for Comcast, an Internet Cable Provider based in the USA. The Company manages outbound calls for Billing and Services and is known locally as a Call Centre. The Company originally was established and operated in the Nevis in 2005 and migrated to St. Kitts in 2009, setting up operations in the Allen Stanford Building, just outside the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport.
Minister Condor told parliament and the nation that no warning was given.
“Indeed, the Clear Harbour officials had scheduled a meeting with the Department of Labour for precisely that same time. At 3:15 pm Clear Harbour Officials reported to the Department of Labour to “break” what was termed the ‘bad news’ and tendered a letter to the Labour Commissioner (received at 3:37pm) which addressed the matter of the closure.
He read Section three of the Protection of Employment Act which states: “Where an employer contemplates laying off or terminating the employment of ten or more employees (whichever is the less). On any of the grounds specified under section 5 (1) (E) at the same time the Employer shall , no less than one month before any proposed layoff or termination, notify the Labour Commissioner in writing of :- (a) The reasons for the layoff or termination; (b)The number and categories of employees affected; (c) The period over which the terminations are intended to be carried out and (d) a summary of the results of any consultations with any Trade Union representing the employees.”
The Labour Minister told Parliament: “The record shows that Clear Harbour did not adhere to this legal obligation, indeed may not have had any intention of doing so.”
“However I must record that the Protection of Employment Act and its Subsidiary Legislations prescribe penalties for breaches against the Act,” said Minister Condor.
He said that as Minister with responsibility for Labour, he made a personal intervention at the meeting held with the Labour Commissioner and at the Clear Harbour compound on the Airport Road.
The meeting was held with Messrs. Carl S O’Neal Jr.; Warren Smay; Greg Payne, Legal Service provider for Clear Harbour, Vice President, Information and Technology, Administrative Assistant respectively, and Officials of the Social Security Board. A meeting was also held with the affected employees and the Labour Commissioner, Mr. Carl O’Neal and Warren Smay.
“At the conclusion of the meeting it was agreed that Clear Habour must pay all due payments in Lieu of Notice as per Law; Clear Harbour must pay all due payment of Holiday Pay as per Law; Clear Harbour must ensure that all outstanding monies due for the deduction of statutory taxes be paid into the Social Security Board; Clear Harbour must ensure that all outstanding monies due for its usage of public utilities ( electricity and water) are paid to relevant authorities; Clear Harbour must provide to the Department of Labour the information required by Law under Section 7 (3) by today March 31st 2011 and such information, as determined by the Department of Labour and the Social Security Board which is germane to the matter at hand and Clear Harbour must review the calculations of the monies due to the employees i.e. – Notice Pay, Holiday Pay, Commission Fees,” the Deputy Prime Minister informed the National Assembly.
“I wish to go on record on behalf on the Government, the Citizens of this Country and in defense of our industrial relations history and integrity to denounce the callous, unprofessional and disrespectful action of the Clear Harbour (Nevis) Ltd. which violates every principle and percept of common decency, justice and respect for Law and accepted moral norms. I wish to note that St. Kitts is renowned for its industrial stability and hospitality to all investor partners and the tradition of industrial decorum and integrity entity is a hallmark of our industrial relations climate,” Condor said.
He gave the assurance that every effort, every relevant institution would be deployed on this matter to address this must unwelcomed event in the interest of the employees and the Federation’s industrial relations integrity.
“I further wish to note that every legal option would be also explored in an effort to ensure that this matter is justly dealt with,” said Minister Condor.
(This article was written with content incorporated from a CUOPM press release)