Former Jolly Beach workers are still awaiting their promised severance payments, despite promises by Finance Minister Gaston Browne that they would be paid over two weeks ago.
Reportedly, the St. James’s Club Antigua Limited is now conducting repairs on the hotel, with a view to reopening it by mid-December this year.
In early October, an agreement between the company and the Government was leaked; but Browne has since said the document was merely a proposal and not a signed contract.
However, it stated that the Government – through the National Asset Management Company (NAMCO) – would receive a US$6 million loan from the hotel to renovate the Jolly Beach property. One of the pre-conditions of the loan, reportedly, was the Government’s assurance that severance had been paid to the former hotel employees.
However, as All Saints East and St. Luke MP Jamale Pringle inquired about these severance payments, Prime Minister Browne initially declined to comment on the issue and would speak only to the renovation taking place and the re-opening date.
Ironically, while responding to a question from MP Walker, Browne opted to comment on the severance payment. He claims the money is in an escrow account, and it is now up to the administrator of the property to determine when those funds will be disbursed.
The workers have been waiting for their severance payments and other entitlements for over two years now and reportedly are owed more than $7 million.