An investigation has been launched into an incident where thousands of dollars worth of phone cards were given to the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) from the Valpark branch of Tru Valu supermarket.
Eastern Commercial Lands Limited, trading as Tru Valu, issued a statement yesterday stating that it does not fund any political party.
“…We wish to state categorically that we are a corporate company that has never funded any political party endeavours nor will it commence at this juncture. Some employees at our Valpark branch without authorisation may have breached company policy and made phone card transfers to an alleged name associated with a political party,” stated the release.
However, Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) president Vincent Cabrera has threatened action should the supervisor at the branch be fired. He warned the company not to dismiss, suspend or take any disciplinary action against any supervisor or weekly-paid worker because of the incident, which took place on October 4.
Cabrera stated that “reliable information” reached the union that on that date, between the hours 4:30 to 6 p.m., “instructions were given by the manager of Tru Valu’s Valpark branch to issue $25,100 worth of phone cards to the Jack Warner campaign”.
“It has been revealed that in a three-way telephone conversation involving the supermarket manager, the supervisor and Mr Darien Warner that instructions were issued to the supervisor, who questioned the need for such a large volume of phone cards. Mr Darien Warner replied that the ILP was having a rally and that the party was giving out phones and “we have to put money on the people’s phone,” he added.
Cabrera stated that BIGWU is opposed to any political party engaging in the unethical practice of purchasing of votes through the granting of gifts, including cell phones, “but the immediate industrial relations issue here is that the manager is attempting to put the blame on the supervisor”.
He noted that at a negotiations meeting at the office of the Ministry of Labour on Wednesday, when the union raised the matter with the employer, “they admitted that the incident did occur. We have advised the supervisor not to resign under any pressure from management; we have asked her to stand her ground and allow the union to fight the case’’.
“Should the employer take any action against the employee, who was only acting under managerial instructions, this union will withdraw workers from all six branches at this supermarket giant on election day as a symbolic act of resistance to arbitrary managerial decision-making,” stated Cabrera.