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Lawyer fighting to get settlement for former KFC workers

Lawyer fighting to get settlement for former KFC workers

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With the local KFC franchise having been awarded to a new franchisee, one lawyer here seems ready to “create war” to get the receiver managers of KFC (St Vincent) Ltd to address the issue of the outstanding wages and other sums owed to former workers of the fast food restaurant.

He is also imploring the new holders of the {{more}}franchise to extend preference to the former workers in their recruitment efforts.

Mikhail AX Charles, attorney-at-law, in a Facebook post on June 18, said “Now I rarely speak out about issues affecting my clients, but it seems that in small countries, the only way to get results is to create war. KFC is sold and my clients the workers have not been assured of their outstanding pay, despite Section 21 of the Protection of Employment Act.”

Control of the KFC franchise had been taken away from its former owners KFC (St Vincent) Ltd on March 9, 2015, by Grant Thornton (BVI) Ltd, receivers appointed by the Bank of Nova Scotia, placing a little over 100 workers on the breadline.

On June 18, Kelly and Tessa Glass announced that they had been awarded the franchise and that persons interested in working with the restaurant should bring their applications to an open call today, June 23.

“… I am imploring the new management of KFC openly – the sacked workers of KFC represent a cumulative total of over 125 years of expertise in delivering the brand that Vincentians at home and abroad have come to love and elevate almost to the status of national dish, the various delicacies of the KFC brand,” Charles wrote in an email to SEARCHLIGHT.

“[I] would hope that preference is extended to them in the recruitment efforts.”

He is also contending that since he wrote to the receivers Grant Thornton on April 10, 2015, on behalf of his clients, he has not received a reply.

“All they want is for some respect to be shown and some maturity in at least having a conversation with them about the outstanding amounts in light of their statutory rights,” he told SEARCHLIGHT in an email yesterday.

In his email to the receivers on April 10, Charles said that in the notice of termination, dated March 24 (but effective March 9), which his client received, no mention was made of the priority which the workers’ outstanding wages and other sums would be given, in relation to the other debts that must be settled in the context of the receivership.

Charles’ email was copied to The Recoveries Department – Scotiabank SVG; the Labour Department, Ministry of Labour; the Registrar of the High Court, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“My client is aware that you are ‘presently calculating’ said amounts due and owing to her and the other workers, she takes issue, however, with the statement in your letter that the payment of other amounts will not occur until the assets of the company are sold.

“She contends that those amounts ought to form part of present calculations as a matter of law.

“I wish to indicate to you the position, as no doubt you may know, under the Protection of Employment Act (Act No. 20 of 2003) makes the workers’ (inclusive of my client) wages et al. absolute priority over even the Crown in the satisfaction of outstanding liabilities (Section 21 (3)),” Charles wrote.

He pointed out that the provisions of the Protection of Employment Act are in “stark contrast to Section 457 (1) of the Companies Act 1994 which states that the Crown takes first priority.

“It is respectfully submitted that the Protection of Employment Act is the accepted and ought to be accepted due to its passage later to that of the Companies Act,” Charles stated.

Quoting the relevant sections of the Protection of Employment Act, Charles added that it is therefore “…a fundamental legal obligation to ensure that all employees, of KFC Saint Vincent Limited and the other associated companies currently under receivership, are satisfied first and arguably best out of the realizable assets within your control.”

Charles said despite sending a chasing email on April 28, he is yet to receive an answer from the receivers or Scotiabank, either by their duly authorized representatives or their counsel. 

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