Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / NWU blasts Francis Fashions for allegedly sacking 25 workers after four months without overtime pay

NWU blasts Francis Fashions for allegedly sacking 25 workers after four months without overtime pay

“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):

Photo: Francis Fashions Shoe Locker operations manager Arund Ramlal (left) shows Jericho Project director Roger Varley one of the tops that the company will donate to the Brands of Hope initiative.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

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.

Photo: The Francis Fashions Shoe Locker logos.

“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.

Photo: Francis Fashions announces job vacancies.

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.

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153 comments

  1. I’m one person that don’t support the 1% their prices are ridiculously high also quality of there products are inferior these workers can get redress

  2. This has been going on like forever. These horrible people snub their employees and their families who are usually amongst the ‘dysfunctional ‘. How can they have happy and productive households when they are treated like sub-humans?? These ‘employers’ are only rich by the sweat of their workers brows. They are generally lazy, dishonest and advantageous but have the audacity to speak ill of the petty thieves which they have created through their unfair practices. I do not protest because I believe that they are agents of an evil power which will not be defeated by loud noise and grandstanding. I advise the workers to band together and pool their Human Resources to help each other. LOVE each other and you will find a way out of this mess. At all cost remember you are one in this. Do not go against each other…….stay together.

  3. If you all had any idea who their suppliers are you’d save your $ and shop by Rattans cuz imo they’re the same…

  4. I am not shopping there again I hope I have support its time we the 99% show the 1% that without us they can’t service.

  5. For employees in general, other than shift workers, the normal hours of work are eight hours a day, usually from 8:00am to 4:00pm, five days a week. The Minimum Wages Order , Legal Notice No.40 of 1999 attempted to set down hours of work for all workers in Trinidad and Tobago, including State employees.

  6. Take them to court sue them and while the workers at it make sure they are paying NIS the one percent do not like to pay they only make money on our heads and bank their money in foreign banks they are like locust.

  7. I can’t boycott them, l don’t shop there… High prices, inferior goods

  8. never work for someone else

  9. 1% flexes their muscle deal with it!

  10. Francis Fashions BOYCOTT! Who’s with me?………….. Anybody??…. Anyone??

  11. Bosses like pampers. Full of shit and on yuh ass.

  12. they were doing it all the time workers in v

  13. The only way to get justice is to not buy anything from Francis fashion, boycott that is how you get real justice.

  14. Pay the people and them over time, u know them cannot do that in a next country, people will stop buy from them

  15. And them making million, Francis fashion,the owner come down the chain,should be in the court house, wicked set of people smh

  16. They are the owners of the new Trinidad and Tobago they can do as they please to ppl livelihood they don’t care about any one well being and they have the government blessings in everything they do

  17. LEGAL SLAVERY : workers have to work extra hours for basic pay. no sick leave or vacation. Risk later night public transporation, to get robbed or kill.
    government is doing this to their employees as well, they are called contact workers, any time off is treated as no paid leave, over time =$0.00 extra pay. ALL employers when you don’t pay worker fairly, then they don’t have $ to buy, = NO customers, = $0 income. But we want to keep the master /slave mentality.

  18. You see why people rather work for the government .this is bs

  19. Some Employers are wicked,advantageous,and they think they can work you as they want and under pay you talk you as if you are nobody slavery days over,it come like some who take you to work in their house and you have too do everything in sight and pays you less than the work you do

  20. When they recant of underpaying workers and sending them home when they require them to work underpaid after hours then they will be truly a blessing. Otherwise all you have there are hollow apologies and vacuous confessions.

  21. But what I reading didn’t they not and correctly so describe themselves as the 1%

  22. To be fair to Johnnie boy, he had a change of heart in that battle so quickly that it was weird…

    • No need for the “johnnie boy” imo on the discourse. Maybe it’s a response to you feeling your website and credibility were attacked but the “boy” reference was unnecessary and I’m sure if the script was flipped you would not appreciate being called “boy”.

    • Stephon you’re the second person to tell me that. Truth is that was furthest thing from my mind.
      I actually misquoted the song “Danny boy”. That was all.
      In same way I might say Johnny Bravo for instance.
      So I hear that and it wasn’t meant to be offensive. And it wasn’t meant to call John a boy to belittle him.

  23. Lasana there are those who would defend the businessmen who in their heads are “giving people a job”.
    What they seemingly fail to acknowledge is these people work and to pay them so low a wage that they cannot afford the combination of rent and groceries while attempting to save. The hours of work keep them from going to market to save some grocery bills from the price gouging groceries. They usually purchase lunches from fast food outlets and drink soft drinks because juices are more expensive. If these workera have childrwn thrn preschool fees or monry for books is added.
    In my view if they really cared they would feed their staff. Meanwhile the so called caring businessmen put alk their bills on the business tab.
    Whether it is the half million dollar to million dollar cars/SUVs or the multimillion mansion or the numerous “business trips” to shop in miami or the generous entertainment allowance. They live like kings while treating staff like slaves. They think they are entitled to ill-speak anyone who exposes their hypocrisy.
    So what you just gave us there is just another glimpse of their hatred of anyone who dares challenge their bullshit. They will not change however because they have never been nor ever will be challenged by anyone in their circle.

  24. They on shit…. employers never admit all the garbage they do.

  25. Sounds like slavery to me…

  26. Wired 868 – you’re full of crap , you’re racist views are a huge turn off . Y’all and your stupid 1% comparisons . Do like the nazis and disappear into the inferno of your own narrow minded racist ideology. You are a sickness Trinidad could do without.

    • Comprehension is a subject that so many Trinidad and Tobago citizens struggle with.
      First thing is to own up to that. There are remedial centers around sir. Good night.

    • Tell you what though John. If you can point exactly how you think Wired868 wronged you and/or your race, we’d be happy to address that for you. Nobody will even have to pay union fees. I’m curious.
      I’m wondering how often you get to use “nazi” in a conversation too… but that’s for another time.

    • Lasana doh study it, he can’t read, apparently. Poor fella.

    • Kelvin, so far he can’t differentiate between author and commentators, he thinks 1 percent is a race and has a dodgy understanding of Nazi history. But I don’t mind digging to see if there is an intelligent nugget in there waiting to be excavated so we can have a conversation.

    • Not sure it would do you any good to have that convo. He seems irked lol

    • I can read mr. Marcano , as I am a graduate of an educational institution that Mr. Liburd also attended. Maybe you both can nourish my understanding or lack of what exactly 1 % actually means . Oh and the Nazi reference is unfortunate , sorry too much History Chanel binge watching. I guess growing up in Trinidadian society I have witnessed my “people” being victimized since they arrived over 80 years ago. But in my religious upbringing I have always been taught that we are one race one color , and one love . We are all 100% .

      • When Voice said FIRE GO BUM DEM, everyone applauded because he was referring to street level bandits, but, in referring to one percent bandits the phrase is inappropriate? Kizzy Ruiz knew what she was saying when spoke about class language.

    • Not “irked” , just saddened that the irresponsible words from a few people have resonated such a backlash for an entire community that most of the time try so hard to emulate good for the country.

    • John I got the impression you’re accusing Wired868 of racism. So you’re saying that a few comments irked you?

    • The last paragraph that began “ the 1 percenters in this country “ who exactly is that , and who wrote the article?

    • John it was written by the National Workers Union. That’s near the beginning of the letter.
      And it isn’t unusual language coming from the unions either.
      And the “us and them” talk has as much to do with that boastful chat around a dinner table with Mr Bourdain as it does anything spoken on the streets or by the working class.

    • The History Channel might be weak on Trinidad and Tobago history. Or maybe they didn’t focus on the rebirth of this hemisphere. But remember your emotional burst with the “nazi” reference higher up? Well, some trinis also get emotional when they think their working class brothers and sisters are being exploited by another race with economic power. There is a lot in history about that period too.
      Now I don’t tolerate racism of any kind. But I’d suggest you consider the feelings of others too when you approach topics like this.
      Otherwise I am always happy to engage and to have a civil conversation. And I have absolutely no problem with criticism.

    • Uh – my apologies Sir to you and Wired .
      Lesson learned-
      Don’t jump to conclusions, read carefully and understand what you are reading . Good night all and god bless.

    • The art of communication with excellence..awesome…great job Lasana Liburd.

    • Tried a pull a 180 degrees there huh? And not once was the REAL ISSUE addressed, smfh

    • Jude Julien I thought I was the only one who saw it.

    • Upset over a 1%comment..but the seeming exploitation of workers not even addressed….and you wonder why ppl have a problem…

  27. What is disloyalty ? They went sports and games to check ah friend.

  28. The key to all of this is to ”organise the unorganised’ our slogan..Worker power does not reside in Parliament, tripartite committees, minority/opposition political posts..The workers’ power lies in his ability to impact production

  29. The last paragraph was unnecessary and does not reflect well on the writer

    • When Voice said FIRE GO BUM DEM, everyone applauded because he was referring to street level bandits, but, in referring to one percent bandits the phrase is inappropriate? Kizzy Ruiz knew what she was saying when spoke about class language.

    • Huh? The writer is the union and they are correct. That business produces nothing and they do import cheap goods and dig out people eye with their prices. They would price a $50 US pair of sneakers at $2500 and then advertise the price as 60% off to ketch stupid shoppers. So you paying $1000 for a pair of sneakers you could order online yourself and pay $500 landed. And keep in mind they buying in bulk and buying seconds and consolidating shipping so a shoe that will cost you $50 they might have paid $30 for it. So yes the union right ” they produce nothing “

  30. I worked with that organization for 17 years ,very dedicated to duty ,never stole never suspended never was insubordinate, and in turn was unceremoniously driven out , their policies and personal biases and prejudice will never stop, as they continue to victimize and prey on the backbone that keeps them afloat which are the grassroots people. no one stands up for the social injustices of these workers ,many supervisors remain fearful of ending up in the same predicament . I never took them to court had a very credible case because i knew in my heart God will deal with the injustice served by this company. they lack morals,ethics,and have no sound company values ,its no wonder they keep loosing staff . what they sow is what they reap and they have alot more to get ,,, some call it karma others poetic justice …

  31. Excuse to downsize cause who shopping dey anyway, seen de goods in FF lately, who buying dat, plus ridiculous prices on sneakers?

  32. They may have business outside of T&T.

  33. Dese ppl in TNT socks.stand up with ppl an don’t give dem a sale.but den again I forget is TNT we in…….time for dese kind of things to stop

  34. Them is to stinky and nasty I take them to court and won my case against them,and I was 8 months pregnancy with my son,take them to court guy’s them don’t like peoples standing up for Them rite. ….Them feel them unstoppable. …that stupidly Supervisors. ….Industrial Court for them guy’s

  35. “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”. This has the flavour of modern day slavery. All these charges because workers refused to work overtime on one day? Ramlal what foolishness! “Wilful breach of trust” When you employed their services, did they sign a “trust” clause? What trust are you referring to, to work till one drop down? people don’t have a private life as well? Did you buy that too? Straight to industrial court for your tails, let’s see how you fair. Slave drivers!

  36. Allyuh go right ahead and just take chain-up from unions eh! ….basket doh hold water….eh!

    • Karl E-cupid it’s ppl who think like you that empowers employers to exploit workers.

    • Unions’ confrontational approach to dealing with industrial matters is well known, but there are so many different ways to settle such issues that, most importantly, (1) would not place workers in danger of losing employment; (2) would not create a hostile work environment… but that is my view, and I think for myself, and I am NOT in the chain-up business!

    • These workers have already lost their jobs so what foolishness yuh talking? No sick leave,no vacation leave,no benefits whatsoever and they must take that .

    • Understanding is not so understandable….the question I am asking is, Did it have to reach to that, where from what I read they were cut loose after taking a particular course of action that must have been advised by the union???

    • They were not union members at the time of the action Karl. They sought out the union after they were locked out from their jobs.

    • Karl is making quite a few assumptions. Since the only party to issue a statement were the workers then that’s what we go with at this time. All that talk about union advising them doesn’t hold water. Are u saying that people can’t demand better conditions or that employers stick to the terms and conditions under which they employed them without the advice of the union? Come now, if u worked extra hours without a choice u might also demand a break.

    • Ok, I hear all. But question is, what is the REALITY now?…and what forced or caused that action?

    • I believed that was addressed in the letter. Even so, there are laws guiding how u treat with workers and dismissals.

    • Karl E-Cupid your point fails miserably at any level an I can tell you why.

      1stly They were not union members at the time of Dismissal

      &

      2ndly Unions only use the confrontational approach where they have Recognised majority Union status (RMU). It’s a tactic to compel the employer to settle outstanding negotiations etc etc.

      I believe those two points alone will rubbish your arguments of your conservative view of trade unions.

      Their redress is simple

      1. join a union,

      2. The Union may engage the employer to try resolve this matter

      3. If unsuccessfull which is most of the time the union will send the matter to the MINISTRY OF LABOUR where the Minister has 14 days to act and attempt conciliation before a conciliator at the Ministry.

      4. Failure to resolve the matter at the MINISTRY OF LABOUR, the minster will have to send the matter to the INDUSTRIAL COURT.

      5. At Industrial Court either the matter go once again for conciliation before a JUDGE or straight to HEARING/TRAIL before a panel of 3 Judges.

      Most employers do not follow due process and good Industrial Relations Practice when attempting to discipline an employee so most of the times employers loose their case on that ground. As far as I see here the employer jump the gun and attempted to assert their power without even thinking out the end result.
      What they fail to realize is that we are in the 21st century and not in the early 1900’s. Now we have the INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT and the INDUSTRIAL COURT TO protect workers in these kinds of scenarios and others.

      People like you all who choose to take up the ‘house slave’ role by saying it cannot be done have no right to question those doing it.

      Last but not least I quote from a HIGH COURT JUDGEMENT OF T&T where the learned Judge Concluded by saying :-
      ‘in the words of CLARENCE SEWARD DARROW, the famous American Lawyer and TRADE UNIONIST that, “WITH ALL THEIR FAULTS, TRADE UNIONS HAVE DONE MORE FOR HUMANITY THAN ANY OTHER ORGANIZATION OF MEN THAT EVER EXISTED.

      Can you tell me sir since your many years living on this earth can you counter or disprove the words of MR. DARROW. I highly doubt. Smh

    • And Mr Duaine Elijah, after all you said in your long “intelligent” and “not rubbish” commentary, what else is new? You see, I deal with REALITY, and what is real is that the affected workers are out of employment….Eh!

    • People should boycott this store. Let them lose money and figure it out

    • Duaine I’m glad you’re sharing your knowledge of Union matters which is a plus for the thread. But don’t spoil it by calling anyone a house slave. We ask people to refrain from insulting other commenters. ✊?

    • Karl E-Cupid as Marcus Garvey said and Bob Marley sang emancipate yourself from mental slavery. The cause of that reality is not a UNION. So your peeves towards unions are misplaced.

      Lasana Liburd I beg to differ, It was a fact not an insult. I am neither a pastor nor a politician to mamaguy people.

    • Duaine the “House slave” reference is meant to belittle and flatten someone. And you don’t take that approach when you are having a discussion. That effectively ends the discussion and the red mist descends.
      You don’t see that? If you think he is biased towards big corporate then say so.

    • Lasana Liburd I will bend to reason your point is taken. ?????

    • This is the way it is in many work places. Something needs to be done.I for one will not be shopping there.My small show of support.

    • Karl E-Cupid but they will get a fat cheque from the former employer when the industrial court rules.

    • Kelvin Marcano so true they are entitled to over time etc etc

    • Karl E-Cupid so it’s fair to say that they demand you work overtime ..then don’t pay you overtime when u say no to overtime they fire you … is that right ?

    • Joel No Chillz Franklyn correct is right. Mr cupid is a conservative and appears to be anti Trade Union and he clearly ignored what MR. DARROW said. Furthermore The MINIMUM WAGES ACT IS very instructive in this matter and Besides UNFAIR SUMMARY DISMISSAL the workers can claim FAILURE TO PAY proper wages in accordance with the MINIMUM WAGES ACT which also carries a fine. Utter madness in this day an age.

      Workers toiling hard loyally every day working like dogs to full employers pockets with big profits and look how they are treated just Skinned and thrown about. These people really believ we still in the late 1800’s /early 1900’s

      Anyone needing any ‘FREE’ INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS/EMPLOYMENT ADVICE or ASSISTANCE can direct message United Public Officers or myself.

  37. Stink and duty just like Krishna Lalla and all his Supervisors and the last Government who gave billions to hide in Panama and force we workers to abandoned their work who had more than 10/years service

  38. I hope someone push for a boycott of Francis Fashions.

  39. Come on T & T consumers boycott them.

  40. I will therefore make a very concerted effort not to do business with this company again.

  41. This kind of thing is happening all over the place. Ancillary workers in schools are also doing the same, although the schools are being paid for these workers.

  42. Day by day by day I see more and more things that can be paralleled to what one reads in the Moyne Commission investigating the riots of 1937. The more things change……

  43. Cyar stay allyuh have union?

  44. What recourse do the workers have? Will the National Workers Union get them compensation?

  45. This is so disgusting a little over minimum wage a workday from 8-5 and still want more, without pay! Geez man this is exactly why the Rich gets richer. So these workers have no families because in most malls this is the one store you sure will open late and Sundays and holidays. How wicked could they be . This is not even about industrial relations it’s simply a humanitarian issue

    • Minimum wage is TT$15 a hour. That means TT$600 for a 40 hour work week. On top of that, the 8am-5pm sounds to me like the employees are not being paid for their lunch hour.
      All that for about TT$2,500 a month? And with a company that is doing so well? That’s cold.

    • MANY companies subject their employees to that type of enslavement with a clause which expressly states that aside from the regular work hours (40/week) an employee may (can….usually is) required by the employer to work beyond / in excess of the legal remit. Many of those clauses DO NOT INCLUDE overtime pay.

      Often, an employee will go along, reluctantly even, because having a job in the first place is their goal and SOMETIMES, an end of year bonus MAY give one a feeling of compensation although a particular employer I know usually dispensed the bonus with a letter stating the “bonus was a privilege… NOT a right.”

      I always felt like that letter took any sense of joy or dignity of receiving the envelope away and echoes of “Yes Sah, Massa. I iz soo grateful Sah” would waft through my brain…

      I guess this is how the rich get richer….

      Hashtag1%

    • Can T&T boycott for a month so the employer gets a message or do we have to tell them to pick up their bundle and run before all they own is lost? If I was one should I just move on or should I give bandits every detail to pillage with?
      I dont care who says vengence is wrong. If this level of injustice must be tolerated in order to claim nobility and civility then color me savage.
      Francis Fashions sells low quality bootleg seconds so I stopped shopping there. Cheap ting no good. But price gouging cheap ting is plain evil.

    • Chris Mark D “boycott”!? … that’s an ideal that even the contempt felt and strongly ventilated in this same (social media) forum with the “confessions” shared in the quite recent Bourdain documentary couldn’t evoke anything beyond the “9-day wonder” cycle!

      Ironically, one of the more potent arguments i saw offered against such a boycott then was that the 1%-ers through their extensive corporate chains are one of the biggest employers of a large segment of the minimum-wage grouping of the population.

      Sure there will always be need for entry level personnel but it is my respectful view that those types of jobs are not (meant to be) career goals but rather… tools / stepping stones on the journey towards a better life.

      Meanwhile, however, the lessons one can learn in those times of transition are numerous and should not be overlooked or underestimated.

      Ultimately, discovering one’s passions and peeves and allowing them to ignite our innovative, entrepreneurial fires would be the perfect payback, pun intended. That and supporting “our own”…. but…. that’s a whole other topic!

    • I use to work Franchise Fashions on a trial for a month only to get kicked out, not even a transfer to another branch. But I’m still standing

    • Debra yes it can be a valuable lesson. Drexel I do believe they can survive this. However it is firetrucking time the employers got a lesson of their own. It needs to hit them where it hurts most. Only two options boycott (seems unlikely) and possible ex staff making ff a landmark example for repaying a bad employer as their errors deserve (would take balls to do. Intelligence to use a method that is not traceable and the wisdom to let the action speak as posting it on fb or boasting would bring police to your doorstep).

    • Chris Mark D I agree with you, I just don’t get why employers are pushing there workers away to the point of boycott

    • Drexel this reminds me of working for Radio Shack and they asked employees to attend a meeting at their warehouse in Macoya. It was my birthday and previous plans were already set. No offer of pay or travel money. I was told I was fired for non attendance. I was also told I missed some KFC. Their arrogance struck me as imbecilic. A Sunday. You request on no pay for a min wage employee to leave their home in the west, traveling to POS to catch a maxi to macoya for old talk and trashy food with no pay?

  46. So now you know why the union got $15M as soon as the pot-wielder and his gang entered office