By Kingsley Emmanuel
AFTER decades of enduring the agony of late payments for fish sold to the Saint Lucia Fish Marketing Corporation, fishing industry workers in Vieux-Fort say it may soon be time for “serious” action.
It’s over six months these workers have not been paid for their supplies to the Corporation and they say they have had no indication when this will be done.
On two occasions in the past the workers have disrupted operations at the Vieux Fort Fishing Port over payment delays which prompted the intervention of the Special Service Unit of the Police Force.
For some time now, the corporation has been grappling with financial problems, which sources in the Ministry of Agriculture have attributed to poor management. The corporation owes the Goodwill Fishermen’s Cooperative of Vieux Fort and the Laborie Credit Union substantial amounts of money for supplies of fish purchased from fishermen in the two communities.
The financial situation at the corporation has been so serious that the former administration had to wipe out its debt of over $ 6 million several years ago.
The fishermen in the south say if the matter is not resolved sooner rather than later, they will be forced to take serious action to make a statement.
“At least we want the government to speak with us. Tell us something…meet us half way,” Dannie James, a boat owner in Vieux-Fort told The VOICE.
She added that the cost of operating her business is very high, so she needs money to continue functioning.
‘I am feeling badly because my business is suffering,” James grieved.
Albert Edmund, a boat owner and fisherman said: “Nobody cares about us. We are tired of this nonsense. It’s time we take some drastic action.”
He lamented that due to the inadequate market to sell their fish, they are forced to continue to sell to the corporation.
“We need our money now. We do not have money to go to sea,” Andre Miller, another boat owner complained.
The problem is also of grave concern to the Goodwill Fishermen’s Cooperative which is hoping for a speedy solution.