Another set of Bermudians have joined the unemployment line with the sudden closure of Hunt’s Supermart & Deli, and Hunt’s Liquors on Middle Road in Warwick this week.

Staff were called into a meeting last Saturday and were told that the following Monday would be their last day. The store officially shut down operations on Monday, the liquor store closed on Wednesday.

But for three of roughly ten employees who formerly worked at the now defunct White & Sons it was deja vu. They have filed a formal complaint with the Department of Workforce Development regarding outstanding pay.

One woman, who asked not to be named told Bermuda Real that she’s situation all over again as a result of the closure.

“They said they will see what money they can get together and see what they can pay us which sounds iffy to me,” she said.

“We never got our money from White’s and I worked there for 13 years, others had worked there nearly half their life and we never got a single dollar – not even a bag of groceries!

“Some had worked at White’s for 35 to 50 years! It hurts me and discourages people especially when you put your best foot forward. I’m a dedicated worker who showed up for a 7am shift at 6am.

“I’ve been down this road before now it’s the same thing all over again. This is the third time for me, the first time it happened was when I works at Marks & Spencer many years ago, then at White’s, now this again at Hunt’s,” she said.

“I’m over the age of 50 and I will not be discouraged, even if I have to start cooking food for people out of my home.

“I have an outstanding bank loan to pay off, and a son to support. He’s certified in IT and was only able to find a job as a kitchen porter. Even though he has credentials he’s washing pots! But he’s doing what he has to do to survive.

“I don’t have anything against foreigners but I wish that my Government would see to the welfare of their own people first! I’m not giving up my little piece of the rock to run off to England like so many other Bermudians are doing.

“I took out a bank loan to educate my son, and I will stand by him even if I have to stay home and cook food for people to make a living. We filed an official complaint because we want what’s due to us,” she said.

Asked why the store closed, she alleged mismanagement. “They were taking money out of our pay for health insurance and payroll tax that wasn’t paid. Some of us didn’t find out until we were embarrassed at the prescription counter and told we had no insurance coverage. I have been asking about my reimbursement since last year!

“They owe everybody – lot of distributors stopped delivering supplies unless it was cash on delivery because of their bad payment record, and I dealt with that daily.

“I’m hurt and disappointed, and I don’t understand this. They knew since September that the owner wanted his building vacated because they weren’t paying their rent either.”

Another woman now unemployed as a result of the closure said: “It’s sad because it’s another Black-owned business that’s gone down the drain, and for what?

“As far as I’m concerned it’s due solely to poor management. Other businesses have thrived here – what happened to these guys? Three women who worked here also worked for White’s and they never paid them! They have had this done to them already,” she said.

“I’ve never been unemployed – I have a mortgage and a son abroad in college, and I need a job! We haven’t received no severance pay, no vacation pay – nothing!

“We were told that we’re going to get it within two weeks but I will believe that when I see it!”

By Ceola Wilson

Photo caption: Photograph by Tariq Bell