Managing Director of the BVI Ports Authority Board, Mr. Claude Skelton-Cline (left) and Chairman of the BVI Ports Authority Board, Mr. Edward deCastro (right).
Photo Credit: File
The BVI Ports Authority (BVIPA) and the retired workers who were recently released from duty have arrived at an amicable resolution, which involves a three-month payout.
Chairman of the BVI Ports Authority Board, Mr. Edward deCastro confirmed with BVI Platinum News that discussions were held today, January 22, between the Ports Board, the workers and senior officials of the BVIPA.
deCastro said that an amicable solution has been reached with the workers. He stated that at the end of January, the seven workers immediately affected by the decision will receive three months pay.
However, the release letters will still stand and the workers will not return to work at the end of January.
The workers were peeved when they received their letters following a decision taken by the Managing Director of the BVIPA, Mr. Claude Skelton-Cline to issue the letters.
As previously reported by BVI Platinum News, some members of the board were unhappy with the Managing Director's decision to release the workers with three-weeks notice.
Some board members were in favor of a three-month notice and were also not pleased since they were not notified by the Managing Director prior to the letters being distributed.
As previously reported by BVI Platinum News, the retirees were sent letters this month informing them that their services would no longer be required at the end of January.
Several sources had confirmed that the workers were unhappy about the short notice given and had sought to have their issues addressed with the BVIPA Board and Hon. Mark Vanterpool, Minister for Communications and Works.
When contacted on January 15, Mr. Skelton-Cline refused to disclose the circumstances surrounding the release of the retirees without proper notification. However, following the publication of the BVI Platinum News article, Mr. Skelton-Cline came public with details.
On January 16, Mr. Skelton-Cline told ZBVI that the issue of release is always a sensitive issue and anytime someone receives a release notice, it is never going to be good. He revealed that some eight retirees were affected and not 15 as sources were saying.
"I understand the human emotion that is involved when anyone is being released and I can empathize and sympathize with that. Because these persons have been retired and received their benefits, the Authority has to make some decisions...It's not going to always feel good and I don't enjoy doing, but we have to do what has to be done in order to let the Authority continue to do its work as it is so necessary for the Territory. I understand the timeline and I understand the sensitivities and we empathize with that," Mr. Skelton-Cline stated.
He said the retirees have served the BVIPA well and they are now making room for their children and grandchildren as the BVIPA is receiving at least three requests per day for employment.
Mr. Skelton-Cline stated that there was no need to inform the board of his decision since the workers are not new retirees.
"We don't have such obligations; these are not new retirees. These are persons who work from week to week based upon the engagement of the Authority, so I don't know of such persons. It's an administrative decision since it was not anything new. The ones that were new would have come to the board. It would have been a point of information; I can't speak to the board. I know my Chairman is aware. I can't speak to whatever the media is reporting," Mr. Skelton-Cline stated.
He sought to explain that of the eight persons being released from the BVIPA, 7 were retired between 2006 and 2008 and were given all the necessary benefits, but were kept on and given special assignments by the Ports Authority.
"Five of those eight persons were retired with full benefits November 2006. They were then later re-engaged in some capacity by the Authority, but they received their benefits. They received their benefits; they received their pension; they received their Social Security if they were at Social Security age, they received a compensation cheque while they were re-engaged," Mr. Skelton-Cline stated.
He also explained that one of the eight persons was retired in 2007 and another in 2008.
The BVIPA Managing Director noted that this year there is only one person that is being retired and the BVIPA plans to re-engage the services of that one person because there is a value they bring that the port wants to retain at this moment.
He pointed out that because of the personal circumstances of two of the retirees, the BVIPA has extended two years to them for insurance coverage, which is part of the transition and restructuring of the Authority. The Managing Director stated that this is not by law, but out of courtesy and gratitude.