ITS been two weeks since Intercept Security Ltd workers were escorted out of the Piarco International Airport by security officers from the Airports Authority (AATT). But, it's been three weeks since they were last paid.
Workers from the security firm, who wished to remain anonymous, told Newsday they are eagerly awaiting their salaries since the new school term is about to begin and they are out of jobs.
They said, on August 16 at around 6 pm, those on shift at the airport were told by supervisors that their employment contracts with Caribbean Airlines (CAL) were terminated. They were then instructed by AATT officials to leave the airport. In a state of panic, the workers tried to take as much of their belongings as they could out of their lockers before they were escorted out by AATT officials.
The workers said, after they made their way through the airport and various security checkpoints, two AATT staff approached them, seized their work passes and escorted them out of the airport. One worker described the situation as embarrassing.
"There were long lines of passengers nearby and Airport Authority (staff) were speaking to us like we were dogs. They did not deal with the situation in a professional way."
Having not been paid for the past three weeks, they said they were told by Intercept Security CEO Valmiki Samaroo said they would be paid either today or tomorrow.
One worker said, "We have employees who have been there for as long as 14 years and we need answers. School starts on Monday and we can't purchase items to send our children to school. We can't pay our bills and neither can we buy groceries to feed our families.”
She said the workers would like to get what is owed to them.
The last information that was circulating to us, was CAL has not paid Intercept as yet, so no salaries can be given out."
Another officer added, "It's like we're literally begging for salaries. We're not getting a definite answer from the CEO so we are all worried."
They said they have not had any correspondence with CAL concerning the matter and have not seen any legal documents about their contracts' termination.
Samaroo told Newsday that he spoke on Tuesday with officials from CAL, who said they were tallying the salaries. He said he hopes to pay his workers either today or tomorrow.
CAL's head of corporate communications Dionne Ligoure told Newsday she did not have any information about security badges being taken. "My information is that a certain number of officers acted upon information they received which turned out to be false information. They then discontinued their duties."
She added CAL subsequently put a contingency plan in place which consisted of utilising reinforcement from it's own workforce and that of handling company Swissport TT. According to Ligoure, this plan adhered to their regulations and ensured that their operations continued uninterrupted.
Calls made by Newsday to AATT's deputy general manager of security and Ligoure for further comment went unanswered.