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Media took dispute ‘out of context’ – SSL managing director

Media took dispute ‘out of  context’ – SSL managing director

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Managing Director of the St Vincent Shipyard Limited (SSL) Daniel Ravotti thinks that the way the recent dispute between the shipyard’s employees and management was handled by the media can affect foreign investment.

“There has to be always a balance. When I check the news, IWitness started on Sunday, it was not balanced, as nobody from the management said anything,” Ravotti {{more}} told reporters on Wednesday,during a press briefing.

On Friday, November 18, Ravotti took the decision to close the shipyard and discontinue normal operations without pay, effective Monday, November 21 to December 22, “due to a technical breakdown of the company”.

Workers had complained that their full wages were not being met. The decision to close the company was abandoned the following Monday, after a meeting with the National Workers Movement’s (NWM) president Noel Jackson.

But on Wednesday, two days after the meeting, Ravotti said that the dispute was taken “out of context” by the media, as journalists had captured the anger, “and when people are angry they don’t think.”

He says that persons must take into consideration that SSL is being run by a foreign investor and in a time when the country is hoping to attract foreign investors, the ones that are already here must be treated fairly.

“This is a foreign investment, a guy coming from abroad to put money to development and what impression other investors will take is if this is the way you treat an investor,” said the Venezuelan, who noted that he considers himself a Vincentian, as he has a daughter who was born here two months ago.

He said that no one called him to get the facts, but SEARCHLIGHT did attempt to speak to Ravotti outside the Ottley Hall based shipyard on Monday, but he said that he was on his way to a meeting with the NWM rep and could not talk at that time.

Ravotti said that while it seems as if SSL owes the workers thousands of dollars, that is not the case, as the daily paid workers are owed 12 days wages and the monthly paid workers who are not managers are owed 15 days.

According to his figures, this means that daily paid workers are owed a combined EC$15,000 to EC$16,000 and the three monthly paid workers are owed around EC$6,000 to EC$7,000.

“They received the money from all the wages they produce last Thursday and the monthly received all the money for the month last Friday for October. What we are having is that we are bringing arrears from July, but we have been doing all the efforts in paying,” said the managing director.

Operations manager at SSL Sylvester “Steve” Ollivierre had complained last week that SSL owes him EC$36,755.13 from his first contract arrangement and EC$17,160.08, his salary for September and October this year. He said that a partial payment of EC$1,000 was paid to him on Thursday, November 17, but when he attempted to cash the cheque, it bounced.

Ravotti, commenting on this, said that Ollivierre’s situation was a different scenario, in that his first contract was terminated, but after speaking, they came to an agreement and a new contract was signed.

“I don’t know why he decide to go such a way. He is a contracted worker, but not an employee of the SSL or a member of the Union. He was very specific that he did not want to be involved with the Union. I don’t respect what he doing, but I understand because you have a family to feed,” said Ravotti.

He said that in relation to deductions from employees’ salaries that have not been paid over to their financial institutions for loans, he has been talking to these organizations and the situation has been explained, but the institutions want their money.

Organizations include: the National Insurance Services (NIS), Quick Cash and Fast Cash and the NWM itself. Ravotti said that these monies will be paid when the company picks up, but he is not sure when this will happen.

However, he stressed that investors are lined up and requested time to sort things out.

Ravotti, however said if investors see all the negative things about the company in the media, they might question if they are making a good investment.

He stressed that SSL has to give potential investors the assurance that the business will pick up and that they are going to get the material and gear and the other things the workers need and the workers are going to work hard.

Ravotti also noted that the opening of the new marina in Canouan will bring big business to the shipyard, as the marina there will not be doing repairs, so any vessel that goes to Canouan and is in need of repairs can come to SSL.

“We have good prices and we are within shoring distance and we have the capacity and technical knowledge and it is wise for persons to come here,” stressed Ravotti.

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