MASSY STORES says business is on the decline and it is now set to retrench workers. The supermarket chain served notice to some employees of its intention to redeploy them to lower-paying jobs or make their positions redundant. Still reeling from negative reactions to its decision to charge shoppers for plastic bags in its “going green” initiative, on April 27 letters sent to staff from the Home Care/Hire Purchase Department, Massy said the department suffered a loss in 2017 and would do so again in 2018.
The company said it tried to address the decline in business by focusing on controlling costs in other areas. However, the measures have not worked and the company is now reviewing its manpower requirements. Ainsley Matthews, president of the Contractors and General Workers Trade Union, which represents Massy’s monthly-paid employees, said the union is not prepared to accept this ultimatum.
Matthews said Massy embarked on this exercise without informing the union. He said it had requested meetings with the employer, but the requests have been ignored thus far. There is disagreement between the union and the employer over the status of the workers.
The union says they are part of the bargaining unit, but the company disagrees.
Newsday obtained a copy of one of the letters in which the ultimatum was outlined. Signed by Gwendoline McLaren, human resources director, and witnessed by operations manager Cyllan Charles, it referred to meetings held with the workers in January and March about the performance of the department, which sells household items, furniture and appliances. The 23 affected staff work at the Gulf View, San Fernando, Marabella and Trincity outlets.
“In this regard, we wish to inform you that your function has been reviewed and due to the steady loss/decline of sales in the Home Care Department, we have had to review and adjust the operations of the business. As a result, we have had to restructure/re-align functions within the organisation to reduce the operating cost of the business to address the situation,” the letter read. For employees who accept the offer, the company has promised to provide retraining, preserve their service, with no break in tenure or alteration of group employee benefits with the Massy Group.
However, McLaren’s letter said, “Should you accept the offer (of the alternative job), it is important for you to note that your position will fall under the bargaining unit of the company’s recognised majority union, the National Union of Government and Federated Workers (NUGFW). Should you reject the job offer, the company shall by formal notice, terminate your services for reasons of redundancy.”
The decision was supposed to have been made by May 3, but Matthews said he has told the employees to report for duty. Attempts to reach McLaren for comment were unsuccessful.