Ex-Fly Jamaica workers storm out of meeting with Labour Department
…say time was wasted, statements taken for possible court action
By: Davina Ramdass
Several ex-staffers of the embattled Fly Jamaica Airline on Tuesday stormed out of a meeting with the Social Protection Ministry’s Labour Department after they claimed the meeting failed to address the issue of owed salaries, among others, affecting some 300 workers.
A Senior Cabin Crew Member, Teasha Corbin, explained that workers were summoned to the meeting with the hope of sorting out these issues with the Minister within the Social Protection Ministry, Keith Scott. However, the Minister did not even bother to attend the forum.
Corbin, who has been working with the airline for the past six years said, “Today we expected that the Minister would have met with us and have something positive to say to us regarding some help for the company or regarding our monies that Fly Jamaica owe to us”.
However, their hopes were shattered as the Department explained that they are merely trying to take statements from them with regards to the crash, as they have “no proper knowledge” on the tragedy and how it affected them.
In this regard, that ex-employee posited that she feels as though her time was completely wasted, especially since Fly Jamaica workers would have reached out to the Department before to relate the situation.
Furthermore, she argued that seven months would have elapsed and only now the Department has taken the initiative to understand the issue before sorting it out. She said she felt very disappointed as she reasoned, “When this Government came in, Fly Jamaica was there all the way through giving support and now the Government I can say to you is not giving no support to Fly Jamaica neither to the ordinary Guyanese citizens [and] the employees [as] hundreds of us are out of jobs. We have children, we have bills we have all sorts of expenses and to date not even one help from the Ministry”.
Nonetheless, she informed that they were told that statements will be taken from them “to probably take the matter to court”.
According to her, she never formally received a letter from the airline informing her that her services are no longer required but came across a notice via social media informing all staffers that their services have been terminated.
She claimed to have been last paid in November 2018. On this note, the former employee appealed for President David Granger to step into this situation.
“My hope would be that the Government would come in, the President I am appealing that you come in. Fly Jamaica needs help and that’s the only way they can help us, they can’t pay us, because they obviously don’t have the money,” she noted.
Corbin explained that the President may be able to fast track some assistance for the sacked workers as the court’s judgment may pass until her grandkids arrive, which would leave employees with no immediate help or any form of assistance from Government although the Jamaican Government has been assisting the fired workers in Kingston.
An employee, who did not state her name in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, complained that employees were forced to stand throughout the meeting and were not apologised to for the inconvenience until a staffer spoke out against the treatment.
The employee noted that Fly Jamaica staffers were scattered across the hallway of the Department while being engaged by a few officials from the Department.
Another sacked employee, an In-Flight Service Supervisor, Gina Mc Camley, told reporters that she too was disappointed by the meeting.
“They’re actually now starting the process so we are all very disappointed that we didn’t get the result that we wanted. They’re now looking into contacting the relevant officials to get a statement from them and perhaps once they get hold of somebody then they’ll start the process,” she explained.
Mc Camley, who has been employed with Fly Jamaica for one year, said she has become very frustrated as bills have been piling up and her family has to be fed, while they are just giving statements, not being told when they will be paid and are nowhere close to being paid.
Fly Jamaica had made its staff redundant at the end of March. This was announced by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paul Ronald Reece in a letter to employees on Friday, March 29, 2019.
These events stemmed from a plane crash Fly Jamaica’s Boeing 757 aircraft encountered on November 9, 2018. The flight left the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) for Toronto, Canada, at about 02:10h, but after reportedly encountering hydraulic issues, the pilot returned to the airport where the aircraft crash-landed at about 02:53h.
The crash has left the airline grappling to not only repay workers but passengers as well.
In fact, it was given until July 1, by the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission (CCAC) to refund passengers who are owed in excess of $8 million.
Initially, the airline had promised the Commission to begin payments in March but has been unable to do so due to lack of funds.
This time around, CCAC said the airline is likely to be hauled before the courts if it fails to reimburse affected passengers.
Already, two lawsuits have been filed against the airline, with the most recent order issued in December.
That lawsuit was filed by a Canadian law firm to represent passengers who claimed they were injured during the crash-landing at the airport.
The notice of the class action suit stated that it was seeking compensation for not only the passengers who were on board the flight OJ256 destined for Toronto, Canada, but the families who were affected as a result of the crash.
That lawsuit came days after Canadian firms Howie, Sacks and Henry and Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman filed a case against the airline for injuries and losses incurred as a result of the crash.
That lawsuit was filed on November 23, 2018.