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50 construction workers now on breadline in Canouan

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The approximately 50 workers who protested non-payment of wages in Canouan this week are now on the breadline.

The construction workers, employed by MNS Construction, a company owned my Matthew Snagg, say they had not been paid by investor/developer Andreas Pignataro of the Pink Sands Resort since December 2017.

On Wednesday, the workers blocked the entrances and exits of the resort with boulders, appliances and debris.

Snagg, one of about four contractors building villas for Pignataro on the northern side of Canouan, said that Pignataro had disputed the amount of money owed relating to overtime payments to MNS workers.

“He refused to pay one payment because he said it was bogus. He probably looking at the hours the guys worked and was saying that no guy can work 13 hours a day. So, he was not willing to pay that because …[to] work them types of hours they had to be a machine, he said,” Snagg told SEARCHLIGHT by telephone yesterday.

The contractor said the overtime money owed to workers amounted to about EC$153,000, but other wages from October to November were paid.

“They protested (on Wednesday) because they wanted their money. I did not have it to give them and every time I speak to Pignataro, he said he was only paying 50 per cent, take it or leave it, or I don’t have a job with him anymore. So, I told him I rather lose the work to get the guys’ money, because it is I who would end up in the situation,” explained Snagg.  

He said on Wednesday, after the workers took action, he was paid approximately EC$119,000, which he used to pay the workers, but he was fired by Pignataro.

“After the guys took that action, he said I am not employed with him anymore, so all of us are out of a job,” revealed Snagg who added that they are usually paid late every month and wages for January and February are still outstanding.

He said workers with other subcontractors are also owed money, but those sub-contractors have not told him if they are also owed by Pignataro. The contractor said late payments by the developer have been a problem from the beginning. He, however, added that he is expecting the remainder of the money owed to be paid to him by next Tuesday or Wednesday.

“Money for this year is outstanding and last year money is out of the way and he owes January and February,” Snagg disclosed.

Activist Terry Bynoe told SEARCHLIGHT that workers used old fridges, stoves, trees and other items to block the road leading to the Pink Sands Resort in Carenage on Wednesday.

He said late payments to workers have been creating a negative spil-off on the island, as the workers have not been able to pay their utility bills, rent and their tabs at the various shops.

Bynoe said that not all the workers who were owed took to the picket line.

“They block the entrance on the top of the hill going to the resort, the front and back roads, so nothing could not come out and go in,” explained Bynoe, who noted that about 12 members of the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) were deployed from the mainland, but by the time they arrived on Canouan, the action had died down.

When contacted on Thursday, a receptionist at Pink Sands, who identified herself as “Crystal”, said the protest had nothing to with the resort and she could not comment. “I do regret to inform you that this had nothing to do with our resort and at the moment I don’t have anybody available, but this had nothing to do with our resort,” she said.

SEARCHLIGHT was transferred to someone with a foreign accent who identified himself as “Ewan”, the front office manager at Pink Sands Club. “Unfortunately, we would not be a making any comments in regards to anything that happened in the resort or without the resort, unfortunately, but thank you very much indeed for your call though,” said the front office manager.(LC)

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