Several employees of CLICO (Guyana) were yesterday issued with letters terminating their service, while moves were made to shut down the company’s Lamaha Street branch as the troubled insurance company faces its financial predicament.
Stabroek News was told that in excess of 30 staff members from various
departments were issued with letters of termination. Among those who have lost their jobs are the entire staff of the Marketing Department as well as several members from the Financial and Underwriting departments, as well as cleaners and receptionists.
According to information received, the fired employees were yesterday afternoon summoned to a meeting with the company’s CEO Geeta Singh-Knight and Vice President of Accounts, Sharon Melville and were given their letters.
Some of the employees and agents questioned the authority of the CEO to issue the instructions that she gave since the company has now been placed under Judicial Management and Commissioner of Insurance van Beek is in charge. When reporters asked Singh-Knight about the propriety of her actions she declined to comment. Meantime efforts by this newspaper to reach van Beek yesterday for comment proved futile.
The terminated workers were told that they will receive their salaries and their severance packages next Friday. They were, however, informed that they would be unable to receive their pension packages at this point in time.
One employee, who had her services terminated yesterday, said that after being given her severance letter, she was assured that she will receive her salary and severance package shortly. She told this newspaper that she was among a few persons from her department who had lost their jobs.
This move came after the assurances last week by Judicial Manager of the company, van Beek that none of the 90 employees would be fired at that time since they were needed by the company. However, on Tuesday van Beek told this newspaper that the positions of all staff were being reviewed.
Meanwhile, over at the company’s Lamaha Street branch which houses Hazelwoods Agency, the agents were told that they had to vacate the premises and were informed that they would be moved to the company’s head office in Camp Street. Stabroek News understands that moves are being made to close the branch located on Irving Street as well.
The suddenness of this order shocked several of the sales representatives at the Lamaha Street office and left many of them angered.
Stabroek News was told that previously these agents had met with van Beek, Singh-Knight and other senior officials of the company, and they were never told that this was a possibility.
One sales representative Haresh Ramsamooj said that CEO Singh-Knight went to the Lamaha Street Office late yesterday afternoon and instructed the agents that they had to vacate the premises. She informed them that this move was necessary since the company needed to “cut costs”. Ramsamooj said that he was “very disappointed” at this development and said that he was hurt that the CEO had not been forthright with them. He said that previously the agents had been told to collect premium payments from their customers and now this order has come. He pointed out that the agents have not been paid their commissions since January.
Agent Don Johnson described the current situation with CLICO (Guyana) Guyana as deceptive. He said that all the time they were encouraging their customers to pay their premiums and now the company has made this sudden move.
Another agent stated that the latest developments were shocking and questioned what he was to tell his customers. He said that “if they can’t pay me, how will they pay the policyholders”.
CLICO (Guyana) came under judicial management after CLICO (Bahamas) was put into liquidation. The Bahamas company held 53% of the Guyana company’s assets and this put its liquidity position under enormous strain. It is unclear whether it would be able to retrieve any part of its Bahamas assets but the government here has said that no current policyholder will lose out.