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Brewery manager refutes ‘torture’ claims in Hai Life promotion

Brewery manager refutes ‘torture’ claims in Hai Life promotion

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Regional Commercial Manager of the St Vincent Brewery Shafia London-Williams has refuted all claims that the Hairoun Hai Life promotion was “torture”.{{more}}

The 20 finalists for the promotion had to hold on to the grand prize, a Mazda RX8, for 24 hours to see who would last the longest in order to win the car.

In addition to the heat of the day, the contestants also had to endure a brief, light shower shortly before the competition ended Saturday morning, sometime after 11 a.m.

However, after 24 hours, 11 participants remained and a draw was held where persons had to select, from a number of keys, the correct one to open the Mazda.

“We have faced quite a few criticisms, of course, because it is an unusual activity for St Vincent and the Grenadines; but in the rest of the world it is nothing unusual. It is something that people do all the time,” London-Williams said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Although off-island during the staging of the finals, London-Williams said she kept abreast of what was happening through her Brewery team and live streaming of the event.

She also stated that she saw the comments via social network describing the event as a form of “slavery” and “torture”.

“We need to define what slavery is. What happened on Friday and Saturday fits nothing that leads to my definition and to the various dictionaries definitions of slavery. So, I don’t know what I mean by slavery, if there is a definition that I’m not aware of.

“It was all voluntary,” she said.

“If it was really slavery, they would not come here today and still be a part of it…

“We sat and briefed everybody on the conditions of the competition and they agreed to participate, and with their agreement we ensured that there were contingencies in place to protect the participants at all times,” London-Williams added.

The regional commercial manager went on to state that the Brewery was looking out for the participants’ best interest at all times.

“We had a medical team on hand and I think the winner even mentioned that he got tips from the doctors and I’m sure that they gave all of you tips on how to remain safe, even while we were having this promotion.

“We ensured that we had all the contingencies in place to take care of you,” she told the participants who were also present at Tuesday’s press conference.

London-Williams further stated that if the competition, in their view, was torture or any form of “slavery” they would not have had it.

“We are a responsible company. We have a big sense of corporate responsibility and we ensure that we fulfill that obligation at all times.

“So, if it seems like one that was going to put anybody’s life in danger, we would not have had that competition. Everyone had a choice,” she stated.

“I don’t see how that could be a form of slavery or torture. Nine persons let go, which meant that they felt that it was too much for them. They tested their limit and the saw they couldn’t go any more and so they took the responsible decision in their interest to let go.

“The 11 showed us what it really means to stick up to something to the end. And maybe it sends a message to other Vincentians, that when we are faced with challenges, we stick it through to the end and we overcome it,” she firmly added.

Meanwhile, barrister-at-law Parnell Campbell Q.C, speaking on his Monday night program, “The Law and You,” shown on SVG TV, described the act as “cruelty” “… by the organizers, and that people will subject themselves to that sort of cruelty is amazing,” he said.

Campbell, in his presentation, congratulated Carlisle Burke for winning the car.

“And if anybody deserves to win a vehicle, it has to be him. I mean holding on to a vehicle for 24 hours with a short break, and then being lucky enough to pick the right keys; power to you, my brother. You really deserve it. Nobody should envy you for that car at all – you worked for it,” he added.

Campbell, however, went on to question the reward of the other participants who endured the 24 hours.

The QC was of the opinion that the others should have been rewarded for their endurance.

“Surely those people who did not win should be given some consolation… I mean, each of them is worth at least $1,000 in their pockets, just to have the courage and the stamina to go through all of that. I understand one lady’s feet were swollen. I could imagine the bladder of many of the others, and so on. I hope we do not see a repeat of that precise competition.

“To me, I may be old fashioned, but to me, it is cruel, cruelty. And I know people want to do that because the attraction of getting a car is appealing, but surely some form of adventurism could be found, less cruel, than having somebody standing for 24 hours in sun and rain… good heavens!”

As it relates to Campbell’s comments, London-Williams said she did not see the program, but was informed of what had been said.

“I was informed of it and everybody is entitled to their own opinion and we would not have people agreeing with everything. So we expect that.

“We listen and we understand the concerns, but we are confident that we had all the necessary contingents in place to ensure that the participants’ safety was at all times our prime priority,” she further added.

During Tuesday’s press conference, London-Williams informed the 10 participants that they would receive one year of free Hairoun Beer as a consolation prize.

“We agreed that there was no consolation prize, but you really showed us what it meant to hold on.

“So, we want to give that to you and to tell you, keep holding on, keep holding your own and encourage other persons to hold their own as well.” (AA)

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