The latest of the companies affected is Construction Technologies Development & Trading, or CONTEC, which on Monday 9th January, 2012, laid off approximately one dozen employees; an action which management has blamed on the weakened economic activity in the island and the slowdown in terms of construction business for which they would have normally been contracted.
Just after 10:00am on Monday, some of the workers who were affected by the staff reduction, made known their displeasure in having to be sacrificed and put on the “bread line”.
Though management has explained that if the company’s fortunes are improved, the workers would have an opportunity to regain their employment, the prospect of this becoming a reality any time soon, said one worker, is dim.
CONTEC Ltd, which was formed in 1992, was the vision of two young men, Lincoln Pemberton and Troy Douglas. Having gained some knowledge and experience after working with Eldon Jones, a Local Civil Engineer, they set out on their own to establish the first locally owned redi-mix and concrete placement business.
Operations are conducted mainly from the Production Plant and Main Offices at Canada Industrial Estate, networking with auxiliary offices at Victoria Road, Port Zante and Beacon Heights. CONTEC DT started Trading in December 2008 under the Management of its CEO Gary Cooper of Gary Cooper and Associates.
The main business of CONTEC includes, Redimix Batching, Aggregates Production and Placement Operations. They are also involved in Construction Leasing, Maintenance, Repair and Technical Service to Plant and Equipment.
Recently the company joined forces with the Social Security Board in St. Kitts & Nevis to develop what has become known as the Beacon Heights Housing Development Project, which has been the source of much public concern, because of associated problems.
Though over 70 million dollars are believed to have been already spent on the project, up to late last year, (2011), none of the houses had been fully completed, and only 10 are said to have been started. Additionally, some of the sub-contractors involved in the project had been protesting over the lack of payments from CONTEC, eventually causing a cease in construction and legal battles.
In the end, the Social Security Board had to step in to basically take over the management of the project, which was being primarily funded by the Board.
The latest job losses at CONTEC, follow those at Electrofab and the Tropical Call Centre, where last week, dozens of workers were laid off. Some 36 workers are to have been sent home from the Tropical Call Centre, and though no specific figure was given for the Electrofab, the number is also expected to be high.
Those companies also highlighted the harsh economic realities as the reasons for the job cuts. In 2011, hundreds of workers also lost their jobs with the closure of Clear Harbour and Reeds Data Services.
Kittitians and Nevisians have started to brace themselves for even harsher economic times given the current austerity measures being applied by the Federal Government, which is now under an IMF program that is forcing the government to raise much needed revenue from traditional and non traditional sources.
Already, citizens have seen a drastic hike in passport fees, with the travel document moving from EC$85 to EC$250 for adults and from EC$50 to EC$150 for children. More hikes in government fees are anticipated this year, according to some sources.