B.E.V Processors Inc has temporarily re-employed 40 staff members who were retrenched along with more than 300 other workers in July as the company moves towards clearing their inventory and liquidating their assets.
In June, owner of the company, Bruce Vieira had related to Stabroek News that market challenges, including the implementation of more rigorous certification requirements were the major factors that influenced his decision to pull out of the fishing industry after more than two decades.
The company began shrimp processing in 1984 and the first batch was subsequently shipped to the United States of America on October 31st the same year.
As a result, Vieira had explained that over 380 employees would be retrenched by July 15th but he was in talks with Noble House Seafoods to purchase some of the trawlers that worked with them as well as taking some of their laid off employees.
Speaking to Stabroek News last week at the processing plant that was still bustling with business, Vieira said that the transition and retrenching of his employees went as planned.
“The process went as expected. The employees that we agreed to lay off were laid off and we gave them their severance pay and we were able to get work for quite a few of them,” Vieira said, while explaining that out of the 379 employees that were retrenched, they were able to reemploy approximately 40 of them under a new temporary structure as they try to liquidate their assets.
“…We took back a few people because we have some stuff left. We took back around 40 but this is not forever. This is because we have a whole lot of stuff – Shrimp, spares and equipment – and a whole set of supplies in inventory. We have to sell those over a period of couple months and I would say probably up to November or December,” he explained, while pointing out that the temporary arrangement could finish before or after the projected date.
Vieira said that he currently has around 300,000 pounds of shrimp left in his inventory that he has to sell along with equipment and spares to liquidate.
When questioned about the fate of the other hundreds of retrenched employees, Vieira explained that Noble House is still interested in doing business with the trawlers that previously supplied his company and is also exploring the option of purchasing them and so far only four have been sold.
He said that on the 25th of this month there is supposed to be a meeting where they will have a clearer view of what is going to happen with the trawlers and the laid off workers.
“Noble House is interested in buying the shrimp from the trawlers or the trawlers themselves and some have been sold,” he said, while highlighting that if the company purchases all of the trawlers then between 100-125 of the retrenched workers would be able to regain employment. ‘
“Some have been sold already and the rest are interested in supplying and once they agree to supply they will probably sign a supply contract or something and then Noble House will be able to identify the quantity of people they can take. If they buy all the boats then they would be able to take between 100 and 125,” he added.
He also explained that the company has already bought additional equipment and currently has the capacity to process the amount of seafood that B.E.V would have been doing.
Vieira had also told Stabroek News that he was unsure of what his next step would be in the business community and related last week that while he is still unsure there are some ideas that are floating in his head, such as a secondary processing factory.
“Right now we are trying to liquidate and after that we have to look at the various options. We can’t do anything right now because the freezers are filled. However, I am thinking about it in the meantime but I haven’t decided. I’m thinking of doing secondary processing and it’s just an idea. By the end of the year we will have a better plan,” Vieira added.
One of the major factors, Vieira had said, that influenced his decision was additional certification such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) that requires additional documentation for companies to be able to export their products to the international market.
“…that requires the country to put a whole set of stuff in place, including the depth that they are fishing as it affects the habitat and other species. It requires a lot of documentation, a whole host of changes in the way the fishermen do things, so that when the certifiers come, they are satisfied that Guyana is practising sustainable fishing methods,” he had said.
In addition to the new requirements, he also explained that there is a problem with the US market – their largest market – where prices have started to drop significantly along with the demand because of cheaper shrimp available from around the world.