General Manager of the state-run Gravel Concrete & Emulsion Production Corporation, Willie Hercules has denied reports circulating on the island that an employee who stole a vehicle engine belonging to the company has been given “a slap on the wrist” and not treated harshly.
THE NEW TODAY called Hercules on Tuesday to question him on concerns expressed by some workers in the company that the matter should have been referred to the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) since a criminal act had occurred.
He said the Technical & Allied Workers Union (TAWU) was notified about the development since it was the bargaining agent for the employees.
He referred to an agreement between TAWU and Gravel & Concrete detailing how such a matter should be handled especially with a long-serving employee.
He said that there is an understanding between the two sides that if an employee has been working with the company for a period of 30 years and committed one infringement over the period then the person should not be allowed to lose all his benefits.
According to Hercules, TAWU is particularly concerned about such a situation and after discussion between the two sides it was agreed that the employee should be sent home for six months without pay.
He said the maximum period that such a worker could have been sent home on suspension is one month but in this case there was an agreement to send the person home for 6 months without pay.
“He is not paid – he has forfeited everything including his bonus. It might look harsh but I am sorry because what he did there was a grave mistake. I had to send a message – sorry about that,” said the Gravel & Concrete Manager.
Sources at the corporation have said that more than one person was involved in the theft of the engine since it was too heavy for one person to remove it from the compound.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the worker is from the Grand Mal area within the St. George North-west constituency of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and had brought back the stolen engine to Gravel & Concrete.
The employee has been working with the corporation for 32 years and is said to be one of the strongest supporters of Mitchell’s ruling New National Party (NNP) administration within the state-owned body.
Gravel & Concrete is one of three state-owned bodies that the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) has urged the Mitchell-led government in St. George’s to privatise in order to cut back on state subsidy to keep them afloat.
Two years ago, Public Utilities Minister, Gregory Bowen announced that government will be investing approximately $15 million into the state-owned Corporation to keep it running after a failed attempt to enter into a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with a Trinidad businessman.
Bowen said that a planned PPP arrangement with Trinidad businessman, Lindsay Gillette was not successful as the NNP administration feared that the deal would not have served the best interest of the country.
“The idea of a PPP is that after the period has elapsed, you hand back for a token amount of one dollar, hand back…operations to the state, but in this case, we could not get that in the agreement …”, he told reporters at a post-Cabinet press briefing.
“We could not get that in. It means 20 years from now the person who managing at the state (level) may have had to pay a significant sum just for getting back,” he added.