(PRESS RELEASE) — Parliamentary Representative for Vieux Fort South, Dr. Kenny D. Anthony, says he is very saddened and worried by recent job losses in the south.
Last week, SMJ Beverages announced that it had decided to “shut down [its] manufacturing operations” in Saint Lucia and make its staff redundant.
According to SMJ, the lockdown, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, affected its performance, sales, and revenue. The company says that exports of its products had virtually dried up and this has had a significant impact on its financial performance, since exports contributed to “over 75% of [its] manufacturing functions”.
The closure of SMJ came on the heels of the decision by Coconut Bay Hotel to temporarily close the hotel and make its staff of some 400 workers redundant.
Dr. Anthony said the redundancies and the projected decline of business in both operations is disastrous for many households in particular and the southern economy in general.
According to Dr. Anthony: “ I have many constituents who worked in both establishments, some for over 10 years. In fact, everyone in Vieux Fort South knows somebody who worked either in Coconut Bay or SMJ. The impact of these decisions will be felt across the entire constituency and beyond. I am exceedingly worried about the quality of life of the now unemplyed workers in the weeks and months ahead. I know that many are deeply worried about how they will be able to provide for their children, especially as some of them are the sole breadwinners in their households. I also know that many will be deeply worried about meeting the needs of their children when school re-opens in September.”
Dr Anthony added that while he welcomes the fact that both companies have made redundancy payments to the workers, such payments are not a substitute for full-time employment and he hopes that upon the re-opening of Coconut Bay Hotel, many of the former employees will be reengaged.
The parliamentary representative also hopes that the unemployment benefits which the National Insurance Corporation has offered to those who are eligible will be processed in good time and made available to the distressed workers, especially as the re-opening of school looms in September. — SOURCE: Saint Lucia Labour Party