DDL commissions new bottling plant, 19 retrenched
Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) has completed the commissioning of its new bottling plant.
The company said that even though the new plant is fully automated, most workers are still on the job.
DDL, the country’s leading manufacturer of wines and spirits, however acknowledged that some of its workers have been retrenched with the commissioning of the plant at its Diamond, East Bank Demerara location.
The company, through its public relations agent, Alex Graham, said 68 employees are keeping their jobs, while 19 were retrenched.
The retrenched employees would receive all of their benefits.
“The fact that the new plant is fully automated, means that fewer employees are now required to operate the plant and those employees must be of the highest skill level,” Graham quoted Human Resources Director Bal Persaud as saying.
According to Persaud, “Over the past four months, the company made every effort to redeploy all staff members who were likely to be affected, by the start up of the new plant. Regrettably, we were not able to find places for all of the employees.”
In compliance with the provisions of the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, DDL said it took steps to consult and engage the Ministry of Labour and the Unions in the process, for the severance of the 19 employees. Some of the 19 workers are represented by the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) and others by the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU).
The Company said it had indicated to the unions, as early as March this year, that the new bottling plant would be commissioned and the company had been looking at the re-assignment of workers, in relation to the skill needs of the new Plant and that some workers might be terminated if they could not be placed.
The unions and the Ministry of Labour were formally notified in writing on April 27 & 29 respectively, that the 19 employees would be made redundant.
The parties were also given the list of names with reasons for termination, along with all other relevant details of each employee, DDL stated.
According to the company, meetings were held with GAWU on May 12 and with GLU on May 13.
Additional meetings were held with both unions on May 20 and 27. DDL and the unions differed on some procedural points during these discussions, but the Ministry of Labour advised that the company had met all the requirements of the law and that the Ministry had no problem with the process.
DDL pointed out that the affected workers were invited to a meeting on June 1 when they reported for work, and it was explained to them that as a result of the new plant being commissioned, their jobs were made redundant.
They were also informed that they would be paid their full benefits. The benefits include 1 month’s pay in lieu of 1 month’s notice; full severance entitlement; payment for unused annual leave; payment for unused annual passage assistance, and refund with interest of their pension contributions, DDL stated.
At Friday’s staff meeting, the Human Resources Director said that “In addition to the payment of all benefits, the company would be offering counseling and retraining services to the affected employees.”
Persaud also indicated that, “These persons would be the first to be considered for re-employment, should suitable vacancies arise.”