Trade union says Massy must increase security

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Ermine Debiquemeade Contractors and General Workers Trade Union CGWTU president general alongside her supporters speaks with media after their meeting concerning safety concerns with Massy managers at Massy Head Office on Wrightson road Port of Spain on February 17. – Photo by Faith Ayoung

AFTER a string of robberies at Massy Stores supermarkets throughout the country, the Contractors and General Workers Trade Union (CGWTU) is calling on the company to put more stringent security measures in place.

Speaking with the media outside Massy’s head office on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, CGWTU President Ermine De Bique Meade said more must be done to secure the workers’ safety.

She cited six incidents between August 2022 and February 2024, including the most recent robbery at the Freeport location on J’Ouvert morning when bandits made off with money from the cash register after they were unable to access the vault.

She said the union met with Massy officials and presented various suggestions from the workers to improve the security at the stores.

However, she accused Massy of shutting down the suggestions without proper consideration and not placing employee safety at the forefront of its security arrangements.

“We would have asked Massy to ensure that they get police to be present in the opening and closing of the stores. And if they cannot get police, then put some sort of security measures, which is much better and much more effective that they have presently operating. Because what they have presently is not working.”

“Before the company could say, ‘Well, okay, we would look at it and see how best this could work out,’ they indicated to us one time it would not work…They are looking at securing the millions of Massy, but not the human aspect.”

She called for Massy to be more open-minded and admitted while all the suggestions may not be viable, some can be improved upon and implemented.

“What would have gotten me annoyed is when I spoke to the Human Resources director, she told me that I’m not a security expert.”

De Bique Meade said most of the robberies took place while the stores were either opening or closing.

Education officer Hubert Henry called on all employees who have assumed “keyholder” duties and assist the store managers by opening and closing the stores to refrain from doing so any longer.

He said the extra money given to employees who assume the task is not worth it.

“The stipend that is being paid to accept this kind of risk is just basically over $200 which the company refuses to increase at any time as they say it is too much for them to offer to the keyholders.”

“So we are saying to all keyholders in all of Massy Sores, who are members of the CGWTU, to hand in your keys and to avoid this risk because the 200 plus dollars is not worth it for what we are experiencing in this time of the country.”

De Bique Meade added the union is prepared to support any employee who feels they are being victimised for relinquishing their duties as a keyholder.

“Massy Stores cannot victimise you and if they take God out of their thoughts to victimise you, you have a union and we will go right up the ladder with Massy because we are not prepared for Massy to victimise our members.”

De Bique Meade said she understands the concern over placing more armed guards in stores as bandits may target them for their firearms.

However she said Massy has not proposed any satisfactory alternative arrangements.

“No unique measures or proactive measures have been put forward by the company in which address this situation that is taking place.”

“(Employees) are traumatised. They are very traumatised because the worker who experienced this situation in Freeport at present, right now she doesn’t want to work. She is in a state right now of trauma.”

De Bique Meade also claimed some of the cameras in Massy’s CCTV system at their supermarkets were not working.

Newsday called Massy’s head office to ask about the current security arrangements but was told by an employee that no one was available.

Massy later issued a media release in which it confirmed an incident of theft at its Freeport location on Carnival Monday and said the safety of its employees is a top priority.

It said the matter was reported to the TT Police Service (TTPS) and said the incident is currently under investigation in collaboration with its security teams.

It added, “In recent months, we have diligently assessed practical solutions and implemented significant changes to enhance security across all our locations.”

“We are consistently reviewing our security protocols with the aim of providing a safe environment for all stakeholders.”

Massy said, “We remain deeply concerned about the well-being of our employees and continue to extend all support services to the affected employee to ensure their full recovery.”