Workers from departments such as Operations, the Met Office, Air Traffic Control, Marine, Security, Maintenance and all other divisions of the government statutory corporation, were required by 21st September to hand in their “Option to Exit Agreement Forms”, to the Human Resource Department.
The one page document to be completed by all staff, read as follows:
I………………..indicate my irrevocable intention to terminate my employment with the St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority and exit the said organization, and accept a separation package in recognition of my years of service. The separation package includes:
- An ex gratia payment amounting to 6% of total earnings for the duration of my employment at the Authority;
- An ex gratia payment equivalent to the severance payment as defined in the Protection of Employment Act, No. 6 of 1986;
- An ex gratia payment equivalent to payment in lieu of notice as defined in the Protection of Employment Act, No. 6 of 1986;
- An accrued vacation leave pay;
- Extended medical insurance coverage for 1 year after separation;
- Access to transitional support services e.g. skills training, psychological and financial counseling.
The document goes on to state that once they have signed the Option to Exit Agreement Form and accepting the separation package, they will cease to be an employee of the St. Christopher Air & Sea Ports Authority.
Employees were urged to make sure that, before signing, they had taken the opportunity to carefully discuss matters with the Human Resource Department and that they fully understood what was required. The Form also required employees to indicate that they were exercising the option to terminate their services on their own free will and without duress and coercion.
According to a memo, dated 21st September, 2010, addressed to employees who have volunteered to leave the Authority, Exit Meetings were being planned for them on Thursday 23rd September, at the multi-Purpose Building, (close to the Customs building at Bird Rock). The meetings will be taken in four groups, running from 8:30am-4:30pm.
The SCASPA memo warned employees leaving the authority that, “You are requested to bring your personal belongings to the meeting, as you will be required to leave the premises immediately after receiving your separation packet. You will also be required to hand over all property belonging to the Authority including ID cards, keys, tools, cell phones, security batons, and badges, before receiving your separation packet.”
It was on Monday 6th September that all employees were summoned to a general staff meeting at the Ocean Terrace Inn, at which time the decision to terminate their services was announced by the General Manager, Mr. Terrence Crossman.
Mr. Crossman told the employees that, “The situation that confronts the organization is one that requires urgent and immediate attention.”
Crossman, said, “The management team took a very deliberate decision to ensure that all staff be given the option to exit, as a first choice. We see this as a humane gesture and frankly the right thing to do.”
The General Manager told the port workers that the alternative would have been to simply select employees for separation, who would have been eligible only for the severance package, as prescribed by law
He told them that the impact of the decision, is at a cost in the millions to the organization, but if employees are to be treated with respect, it was the right one.
Crossman said that, “The needed savings is approx $5,000,000 – $6,000,000 per annum.”
But he stated that depending on the number of staff members who volunteer, that would help to determine the level to which employees will be selected for separation.
Crossman advised that, employees who opt to exit will receive a more attractive financial package, than those who are laid off. The only difference in the package though is the 6% ex gratia payment.
Wednesday 21st September though was the ultimate deadline for employees to take the Option to Exit. No applications will be accepted after that date said Mr. Crossman.
The General Manager warned employees that the decision is final and irreversible.