GT MLAs embroiled in labour row

| 21/10/2015 | 16 Comments
Cayman News Service

Constituency office of Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly in George Town

(CNS): The former personal assistant to George Town MLAs Roy McTaggart and Winston Connolly, who worked in their constituency office, has filed a complaint with the Department of Labour and Pensions about her political employers, claiming that when they made her redundant, they did not settle her severance in accordance with the law. Christine Rae Smith believes the C4C members terminated her employment because she was arrested this summer on a matter unrelated to her work but have now abolished the post after temporarily closing their GT constituency office on Shedden Road.

Rae-Smith was questioned by police in August in relation to an armed home invasion in Raleigh Quay and a hold-up at a George Town nail salon but she was released without charge and has not been charged with any crime to date.

When she was released, Rae-Smith (36) contacted her employers via telephone and email, she said, but to date said has not heard from either of them directly. However, she eventually received a call from the MLAs’ lawyer, who requested a meeting so that she could resign from her post, something she said she did not wish to do.

Following what she described as efforts to bully her into resigning, in September she said was told by the lawyers that the situation had changed and the office was closed. Negotiations then began over severance. Smith claims she is owed around $9,000 — almost three times the amount of settlement pay that her former bosses are offering — and she has therefore taken her case to the labour department.

Following enquiries by CNS, Connolly, who works with the employment minister as a ministry councillor, and McTaggart released a joint statement Tuesday evening in which they claimed they had attempted to amicably resolve the situation.

The MLAs said that after news of Rae-Smith’s arrest appeared in the media in mid-August, they contacted lawyers and then made a decision to close the office. Although it will now re-open, they said they will not be hiring a personal assistant but will now be managing the constituency office themselves.

“Our attorneys on a number of occasions communicated with Ms Christine Rae-Smith in an effort to amicably and privately resolve this unfortunate situation and were unable to do so. Our attorneys advised that the redundancy notice should be issued, and following that advice, informed Ms Rae-Smith on 17th September 2015 that her position was redundant and that all statutory payments pursuant to the Labour Law could be collected at their offices,” the MLAs stated.

Rae-Smith, who disputes the amount offered, has not collected the cheque. The MLAs said she has refused what they believed was a generous offer, but Rae-Smith told CNS that the offer has nothing to do with generosity but the law. She said she was not arguing over the redundancy, if they wished to let her go, merely her legal rights.

“They must pay me what the law says I am due, not what they consider a ‘generous offer’, as it is way less that what I am entitled to,” she added.

The MLAs said Rae-Smith had contacted the media, and in particular the radio talk shows, where discussions have included “a lot of misleading and misinformed remarks” by the hosts. “It is unfortunate that Ms Rae-Smith has chosen to take the matter into the public domain,” the pair added in the statement.

But Rae-Smith said she felt compelled to make the issue public as the MLAs had failed to settle with her in accordance with the Labour Law, a claim she said was supported by documentation, which she said speaks for itself and has been provided to the media, including CNS.

The documentation includes the outline of Rae-Smith’s complaint, the calculations she has made regarding her legal right to severance pay and the correspondence between herself and the MLAs’ lawyers over her departure, which went from asking her to resign to making her redundant.

Rae-Smith also revealed that she and Connolly were partners in a beach cleaning business, which she said was used by Connolly to further muddy the waters by tying the dissolution of the partnership into the severance.

In the statement, the MLAs make no mention of the details of the partnership in Sand Kay or the complaint filed with the labour office.

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Category: Jobs, Local News, Politics

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Being arrested and being charged can be years apart in this country. We should grow more bananas.

  2. REAL TALK says:

    If she is charged this decision makes sense but if not this is not a good look for Winston and Roy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow!
    …and a partnership in a beach cleaning business?! Really, guy?!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is a typical damned if u do damned if u don’t. Had they not distanced themselves from her, I’m sure everyone would be saying why she still working for them. She was arrested on suspicion with no charges to date (to date being the operative word) so similar to Kenny, until the cases go to court and she isn’t on trial, only then can they truly be able to work with her again but considering current law suit that will never be. Supposed she does eventually get charged, I’m sure everyone here will be then saying “bouy, u c how dem GT MLA’s let dat girl wurk fa dem and she wa guilty. Wunda what confidential info she a take to jail.” So I’ll finish it off with the way I started, damned if u do and damned if u don’t.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rae-Smith was good enough to be in business with one of her MLA bosses and employ but not good enough to speak to face to face? Think about it does that sound reasonable and fair when no criminal charges have been filed to date?

    • Anonymous says:

      If that is their position then there was no need for the failed attempt at making her position redundant. Anyone who has ever read the Labour Law (and assuming they bothered to draft her employment contract properly) would know there are mechanisms for termination employment appropriately. It is illegal to use redundancy if its not truly a redundancy situation. No one is saying they can’t distance themselves but at least use the appropriate mechanism, grow a pair meet with her and terminate her employment. No need to handle it illegally or unethically.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Maybe Adams would like to update us on how many turtles he released into the wild over the past 2 or 3 years, and then tell us how many died in the farm over the same period.

  6. REAL TALK says:

    There is no loyalty in politics!

  7. All Seeing Eye says:

    “There are none so deaf as those that will not hear. None so blind as those that will not see”

  8. Anonymous says:

    Don’t worry GT both are one term wonders that will get fired in 2017

  9. Anonymous says:

    How can her post be redundant when the legally have to have an office?? Something smells and it aint rae-smith.

  10. Anonymous says:

    If it is a true redundancy why would they offer her resignation. A redundancy occurs when there is legitimately no justification for employing the employee. For example where there is a downsizing or restructuring. You do not ask the employee to resign, you make them redundant. I hope Ms. Rae Smith gets herself a good employment lawyer and fights her corner.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed and don’t seek assistance from the labour office. They are about as useful as chalk on a dry erase board.

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