“On Monday 5 March, workers informed their supervisor that they wanted to leave at the stipulated knock-off time—which is their right—and were told that they could do what they wanted.
“On Tuesday 6 March, when workers reported for work, they were prevented from entering the compound and were, in fact, locked out. There was a list at the gate indicating which workers were to be prevented from taking up duty.”
The following statement on the alleged sacking of 25 workers by Cadel Trading, which is a subsidiary of retail store Francis Fashions, was issued by the National Workers Union (NWU):
Twenty-five workers employed with Cadel Trading of 36 Tissue Drive, New Trincity Industrial Estate, were dismissed by the company by letter dated 7 March, 2018 signed by Operations Manager Arund Ramlal. The dismissed are 20 warehouse attendants and five drivers. Many of these workers are remunerated just above the minimum wage.
The normal working hours for these workers is 8am to 5pm but, since November, they had been working overtime, which, of course, has subjected them to continuous stress and has interfered with their family life.
On Monday 5 March, workers informed their supervisor that they wanted to leave at the stipulated knock-off time—which is their right—and were told that they could do what they wanted.
On Tuesday 6 March, when workers reported for work, they were prevented from entering the compound and were, in fact, locked out. There was a list at the gate indicating which workers were to be prevented from taking up duty.
Rightly incensed, the workers contacted the National Workers Union (NWU). President of the Union, Dave Smith, then wrote the following letter, dated 7 March, 2018 to the Human Resources Department of the company.
“We are aware of some 25 or more workers currently locked out from your Warehouse in Trincity. There appears to be no explanation for this, which is clearly contrary to good industrial relations practice and, if our information is correct, will be an industrial relations offence under the Industrial Relations Act.
“We are requesting:
● the immediate return of these workers to their employment without loss of pay;
● an explanation of exactly what is behind the employers lockout.
“We will be reporting this matter to the Industrial Court unless we can receive a confirmation that the workers have been allowed to return to work immediately without loss of pay.”
On the same date (7 March), the company dismissed the 25 workers and has already started to advertise for warehouse attendants and drivers.
Many people would not be familiar with the name Cadel Trading, which is the warehouse arm of the company Cadel Trading and Knights Investment Ltd. It owns and operates what is reputedly the largest chain of retail stores within Trinidad and Tobago—Francis Fashions Shoe Locker.
It sells clothing, shoes, accessories and sporting equipment with over (30) locations nationwide. The retail chain also includes stores like Guess, Puma, Kenneth Cole, Adidas & Got Shoooz.
The Chief Executive Officer, Sean Hadeed, comes from a well-known family which is a leading family in the infamous one percent. Unlike ex-UNC Minister Gerry Hadeed, Dominic Hadeed of Blue Waters fame and former Vice-president of the Senate and PNM Mayor of Arima George Hadeed, he keeps a low profile. Sean Hadeed is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Gulf City Mall in La Romaine.
The one percenters in this country—who produce nothing but utilise a vast amount of the foreign exchange which they had no hand in earning to import cheap goods and sell at high marked-up prices—really hold working people in total contempt and think nothing of destroying families if workers are boldfaced enough to insist they be treated with respect and dignity.
Editor’s Note: Wired868 contacted Francis Fashions through its social media page for a statement from the company and/or operations manager Arund Ramlal on the dismissal of the 25 workers. The company acknowledged receipt of our request but, up to the time of publication, management had not responded.
In termination letters to employees, signed by Ramlal, Francis Fashions accused the sacked workers of “serious misconduct,” “willful disobedience,” “willful breach of trust,” “neglect of duty,” “disloyalty” and “insubordination.” The workers deny the accusations.