Last night we told you about the mass termination at the Punta Gorda Town Council. Fourteen employees in the administrative, traffic, and sanitation departments were handed walking papers last week Friday. PG Mayor, Oscar Selgado, said the mass firing came after a decision was made by the town council to downsize its staff due to severe financial constraints. Selgado claimed that the decision to fire the employees was made with advice from the Ministry of Labour and Local Government. In fact, Mayor Selgado said that the ministry had advised the council to fire fifty percent of its workers. But the respective minister is saying otherwise. According to Minister Oscar Requena, the PG town council was never advised to fire fifty percent of the staff.
Oscar Requeña, Minister of Labour: “I would like to make a clarification. I don’t know if the Mayor may have misspoken but certainly I want to clarify that at no point did our ministry recommend that 50% of the employees be terminated. I want to make that absolutely clear. We had meetings with the Punta Gorda Town Council a couple months ago, because we certainly are interested to see how we can work with the Town Council in Punta Gorda, like all other Town Councils and City Councils across the country and we particularly were concerned about, you know, the financial situation in Punta Gorda. We discussed that very extensively to see how they could improve their collection, their revenue, how they could put cost saving measures in place to reduce their expenditure and certainly we made it absolutely clear that it was a matter for the Town Council to decide how they would move forward. When a matter like this happens, where, you know, employees are being terminated because of the council putting in place certain measures to reduce their expenditure, that matter should have been brought to the attention of the Labour Commissioner. Under Section 45, sub section 3 of the Labour ACT, the Labour Commissioner should have been notified well in advance of this situation and if there is a trade union that represents the workers, the trade union should also have been notified. And this is just to ensure that there is fairness in the calculation of whatever benefits that may have been accrued to the employees. So for the Mayor to have said that it was a decision made by the Ministry, I have to clarify that that is not so.”