Several weeks after Massy Holdings declared a 20 per cent increase in profits, its subsidiary, Massy Stores, terminated nine front-end supervisors who it deemed as a surplus to its operations last Thursday.
Contractors and General Workers’ Trade Union (CGWTU) president general Ermine De Bique-Meade said the supermarket chain dismissed nine single mothers last week despite ongoing talks.
Furthermore, the union claimed the supermarket reviewed its operations and determined it had 67 surplus management employees, suggesting the company may seek to retrench 58 more.
The supervisors worked at the Diego Martin, St Augustine, Marabella, Gulf View, Westmoorings, Moka, Alyce Glen, San Juan and Marabella branches. Five had just over ten years of service, with the others ranging from four to six. They supervised the front sections of the supermarkets, ensuring cashiers performed accurately and tended to customer concerns and queries.
At a media conference at the CGWTU headquarters in San Fernando, De Bique-Meade noted Massy Holdings had reported group profit after tax from continuing operations of $514.41 million for the nine months ended June 30, which was a 20 per cent increase over $427.78 million reported for the same period in 2022.
She said Massy Stores wrote the CWGTU on August 9, inviting the executive to a meeting the following day to discuss commercial operations changes. She said the company indicated it had reviewed its operations and identified a surplus of staff in the front-end section that made some positions redundant and submitted a list of employees for retrenchment using the last in, first out system.
The CGWTU rejected the retrenchments and requested data justifying the position. During subsequent meetings, the company submitted some information.
“They sent a retrenchment letter to the union on the 13th. We would have written them, asking them to hold their hand, and at 8 o’clock on the 14th, they would have sent messages to the managers of the stores, asking these workers to report to head office to collect their retrenchment letters. We responded again, asking them to hold their hand, but they did not care,” De Bique-Meade said.
She said it had insulted the women, who worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic, risking their and family members’ health to ensure Massy made millions in profit.
Joint Trade Union Movement General Secretary Ozzi Warwick called on the company to reinstate the workers.
He also noted that Massy Holdings’ shares outperformed local and international benchmarks. Its investor returns comparison showed that $100 invested in 2020 had a 100.3 per cent return, he said.
“After publicly boasting about these hundreds of millions of dollars in profit and billions of dollars in revenue, one month after, what do you do? You gave retrenchment notices to nine hardworking women,” Warwick said.
CGWTU Education Officer Hubert Henry said the company’s rationale was that it only needed one worker to cover eight hours and another to complete the workday.
“The mood right now is one of worry and concern. Who will be next? And the ironic part is that the day when given their notices of retrenchment, the following day, the company took all the store managers on a retreat in Santa Cruz,” Henry said.
In a media release, Massy Stores confirmed it issued separation notices to nine employees after discussions with the CGWTU.
“This was a difficult decision, made after careful consideration and an extensive review of our operations. Those affected are our employees, family and team members for whom we care. Every effort is being made to ensure that they are supported as they navigate this transition, and we have started to identify other employment opportunities, internally and/or externally,” the release stated.
Massy Stores said it operates as a responsible retailer and employer, taking guidance from its values and good industrial practices.