THE Margaretta v Castries City Council (CCC) case has come once more into focus, as John Leonie, one of the 15 claimants who successfully sued the Council for wrongful dismissal, has decided to speak out against Mayor Peterson Francis and the hitherto unpaid sum, “equal to the total net earnings” awarded to them in court.
In September 2011, the claimants were engaged by the Council, under fixed-term contracts for 5 years.
They were labourers and sanitation workers who were required to provide maintenance and janitorial services within the City of Castries and its environs.
The contracts were prepared by the Council and signed by the claimants at its office.
The claimants provided the services as agreed, in areas designated by the Council.
However, having performed the services for slightly under 12 months, termination letters were issued to each of them in the months of May and June 2012.
The judge ruled in favour of the claimants, stating that: “There is nothing in the evidence to suggest the claimants were not performing according to the standards set by the CCC” and concluded that “The contracts were not terminated by mutual consent or lawful cause.”
Therefore it was decided that “The claimants are entitled to the measure of the damages equivalent to the respective net earnings claimed in the amended statement of claim, for the unexpired term of the contract.”
The claimants were also awarded a “post judgement interest at the rate of 6 percent per annum to date of payment.”
In an exclusive interview with The VOICE, Leonie has made it clear that while he acknowledges that the initial fault over the matter lies with the CCC under the previous Administration, this current Council has had more than enough time to rectify things — and despite speaking to Mayor Francis about it, he has still not yet seen anything happening.
He also claims the Mayor has not done enough to ensure that there’s an amicable agreement that the two parties can come to, including the payment of legal fees incurred during the course of the court cases and brand new contracts with the CCC.
Recalling the aftermath of their termination, Leonie said “We won the case!”
He also said he went to the Mayor and told him: “I think the best thing for the Constituency Council to do is to come to an agreement and the agreement we would prefer is to pay our legal fees, give us a contract — and we’ll be fine…”
But, Leonie said, “The mayor had different ideas…”
The successful Margaretta v CCC claimant went on to describe some of the horrible conditions he and other claimants now live under.
“Some of the contractors concerned in this case are not the best in health,” Leonie stated, adding: “There’re people owing the bank still. Some of them have lost everything. They took credit and it’s hard to work, having been going back and forth to courts like that.
“Some do not even sleep on a proper bed — and the Mayor knows that well…”
Leonie also accused the Mayor of not being empathetic enough: “The way I see it, this Mayor does not care about poor people. $3.7 million — he probably figured poor people should not get all that money… One thing I’m going to tell you, though: he’s not bigger than God, who is in control. And whatever happens, happens…”
Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry have said that a statement will be made on Monday regarding the Margaretta v CCC case.