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Carpark doors, burglar bars, electrical installations ripped out

Carpark doors, burglar bars, electrical installations ripped out

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The National Labour Congress (NLC) and WINFA are crying foul over the condition in which they met the operating booths of the car parks at Arnos Vale and Kingstown, previously leased by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CIC).{{more}}

But Shafia London, Executive Director of the CIC, contends that the Chamber only had a lease agreement with the Government and no one else.

Operating Manager Noel Jackson complained to SEARCHLIGHT on Friday, October 1, that representatives of The SVG Solidarity In Action Inc., (A joint venture between WINFA and the NLC), the new company that will be operating the car parks, were having a meeting the day before, when they received information that people were at the booths removing items.

He said at about 6:30 p.m., when representatives of the company visited the Kingstown booth, they met it without a door or burglar bars; and with electrical installations ripped off the walls and sections of the three windows removed. He said the counter that the cash registers are usually placed on was also removed.

But Jackson said he and his team were anticipating that something like that may take place, so they had already ordered new cash registers. He said an electrician was called in on Thursday night to organize the electical outlets.

Jackson also disclosed that his team held discussions with three of the eight carpark workers who turned up to a meeting about being employed with the new company. However, on Friday morning, one did not attend work and another, who received a job offer elsewhere, volunteered to train the new staff and provide all the necessary information to allow the operations to go smoothly.

On the issue of an earlier suggestion by London, that it would be more appropriate for the NLC and WINFA to take over the operations at Food City, Jackson said: “I think that Ms. London went overboard on that issue, because she cannot tell Government, who to give what. But I would say this, the Chamber has the expertise more than the NLC and WINFA to manage Food City, because a substantive part of their membership runs supermarkets.”

“Why do you suggest NLC, knowing that we do not have the experience and the expertise to take on a supermarket, that is not one of the number one supermarkets in the country….I think she was just being mischievous too, in making this statment,” said Jackson.

“I think what happened yesterday (Thursday, September 30) reflects an uncultured nature. I did not expect the Chamber to go so low as to do what they,” said Jackson, noting that the Chamber could have asked the new company to pay for the fixtures.

Jackson said that a letter was written to Angus Steele, President of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, requesting a meeting with the new company, but they never received a reply. He said efforts to reach Steele via telephone were also unsuccessful.

He outlined that the net proceeds from the parking lots will assist in the capacity strengthening of the farmers and workers organizations involved.

London, when contacted, said the Chamber holds the position that it was in a lease arrangement with the Government only and no other entity.

She added as such, the Chamber is only obligated to its leaser, who did not accept its invitation for a meeting to discuss the lease.

“Additionally, we did not lease car parks from the Government, we leased land. And as such, we only have discussions with regard to the land,” said London, as she spoke of the Chamber’s stance.

London said that items removed from the booths were moveable items in which the organization had invested.

On Tuesday, August 3, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said Cabinet had taken the decision to hand over the parking lots to the Windward Islands Farmers’ Association (WINFA) and the National Labour Congress (NLC) and this was “only fair”, since the Chamber had had the benefit of running them for two five-year terms.

The Prime Minister said the parking lot is a state asset and given the problems being faced by the farmers and workers, they were favourably considered.

The Chamber, 10 years ago, spent $500,000 to build the Kingstown car park on lands leased from the government. The cark parks generated $346,038 in revenue in 2008 and $375,198 last year.