2257456
CEPEP Coastal Clean Up at Carat Shed Beach in July 2019.

Thirty-one Community-Based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (Cepep) workers have been sent home effective April 2.

The move came following the unexpected termination of Sherwin Baptiste’s contract with the state-owned company.

Baptiste, the managing director of Tombo and Company Ltd, had a gang of 31 labourers who were thrown on the breadline last Thursday.

In light of the development, Baptiste who supported and voted for the ruling People’s National Movement government in the 2015 general election, accused Cepep of dealing with him unfairly.

Last November, Baptiste was awarded a three-year contract by the company to clean and beautify a designated area in Marabella.

He said the performance of his workers never came into question.

But to his surprise, Baptiste said he received a letter dated March 3 from the company informing him that his services were no longer needed from April 2.

The letter signed by Cepep’s CEO Keith Eddy did not state the reason for the termination which left Baptiste puzzled and angry.

“They just left me hanging. They want to give their friends and family my contract. That is what it is. So they get rid of me.”

Baptiste said the news broke the heart of his staff many of whom are women with children.

“These women are now out of jobs…31 of them. Every day they calling me and crying. They are asking me questions I cannot answer. My hands are tied. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. You don’t do people these kinds of things,” Baptiste said.

He said he would seek legal advice on the matter. Eddy in a telephone interview with Guardian Media said Baptiste was not victimised nor targetted.

“From time-to- time we would review areas and the number of contractors deployed. Unfortunately in that Marabella area we had one contractor too many.”

Eddy said seeing that Baptiste was the last to receive his contract in the district they decide to use “the last in, first out” criteria to send him home.

Eddy said Baptiste would be considered by Cepep again.

“There is no reason for us to victimise anyone. We will look at it and see where we can place the individual.”

Eddy said Cepep has a workforce of 9,000 which they would not cut.

“As far as I know there is no plan to downsize. Cepep contractors frequently change workers.

“We can speak to some of the contractors to try and absorb Baptiste’s crew. What I am focusing right now is to ensure that all the workers get paid in this critical time.”