Workers of the Toucan Call Centre in the mining town of Linden want the government to block the managers from leaving the country after the owners of the Call Centre decided to shut down its operations without notice, leaving more than 80 persons jobless and without their severance pay.
The Labour Department was called in to investigate the sudden closure of the company after workers turned up on Monday to their jobs only to find the gates locked and no access to the Kara Kara building.
One of the angry workers told News Source that the managers eventually appeared and told them that the company has decided to shut down its operations and they should “go to the government” for their severance pay.
The confused workers said they were never told of any problems being faced by the company or any plans to wind up its operations in Guyana.
The Toucan Call Centre has been operating in the town for several years and is owned by a St. Kitts based group.
Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Simona Broomes said she was forced to go to the bauxite town on Wednesday after receiving the complaints of the fired workers. She said she was shocked to find out that the company had been flouting a number of labour laws and claims that all of its documents and records for the workers are in St. Kitts.
“This is disrespectful to the workers”, Broomes said as she related to News Source that she could not understand that the company was allowed to flout local labour laws under the previous government. She said the local managers could not provide her labour officers with the records of the workers and their entitlements.
Minister Broomes explained that she has dispatched several officers to fully investigate the complaints of the workers and the government will be inclined to take action.
She said just after the new government took office, it investigated a number of complaints from workers about their working conditions and the company started to make moves to correct many of the deficiencies.
Broomes said it is “totally unacceptable” for the company to decide to shut down its operations without informing the workers or the labour department “and even more disrespectful and unacceptable to tell the workers to go to the government for their severance when this is in fact a private company”.
The Regional Administration of Region 10 is also meeting with the dismissed workers and making moves to ensure that their concerns are addressed.
In the past the workers had complained about their low wages and employment contracts. Many of them said they were forced to work for long hours without leaving their desks since the time away from their desks would be deducted from their salaries even at times when they were attending company meetings.
News Source made several efforts to contact the management at the company. Those efforts were unsuccessful.