Responding to remarks of Central Labor Council President Luis "Tito" Morales, St. Thomas attorney Tom Bolt called them "unfortunate and irresponsible". Morales appearing on St. Thomas radio station WVWI’s "Morning News" stated that "Kazi Management should lose its EDC benefits due to the closure of the KFC restaurant at Buccaneer Mall on St. Thomas."
"Once again, Tito Morales has spoken before he has the facts," said Tom Bolt, the St. Thomas attorney that represents Kazi Foods of the Virgin Islands. "Kazi Foods of the Virgin Islands does not have EDC benefits, has not applied for EDC benefits, and would not qualify if they did apply." Bolt noted.
Kazi Management, Inc. does have EDC benefits, but has no affiliation with Kazi Foods of the Virgin Islands, Inc., except that they have the same prinicipal, Zubair Kazi. "To suggest that one company should lose its benefits, because of the actions of another is like comparing apples and oranges." Bolt said.
Kazi Foods of the Virgin Islands closed its Buccaneer Mall restuarant last week after attempting to negotiate the closure with the Virgin Islands Workers Union, which represents the employees of the restaurant. "Kazi Foods alerted the union to the pending closure as early as July 26th of this year." said Ravinder Nagi, an attorney with Tom Bolt & Associates, P.C. which represents Kazi Foods. "Contrary to the statements that have been made by Charlesworth Nicholas, President of the Virgin Islands Workers Union, Kazi Foods first discussed the closure on July 26th and at no time did Kazi Foods ever deny the closure."
"The reason for the closure was the lease." said Bolt. "The rent was four times what it is for any of Kazi’s other restuarants on St. Thomas. The landlord and the restuarant were both owned by the same person when the rent was established. It was not market rent. The KFC restaurant at Buccaneer Mall was then sold to Yum Foods and subsequently purchased by Kazi Foods. The property landlord has also changed hands. The lease expires in a few weeks. Kazi Foods attempted to secure a new lease at market rates – that didn’t happen." Bolt said.
"Anytime employees lose their jobs it is unforturnate." said Nagi "but Kazi Foods has gone the extra mile to lessen the impact on its employees and assist them in every way." Kazi Foods is providing its dislocated workers with over a half month’s salary, counseling, retraining and additional benefits through the Virgin Islands Department of Labor. "Although these employees only worked for Kazi Foods for half a year, they are paying a significant amount of severance pay." remarked Nagi, who Chairs the Labor & Employment Group at Tom Bolt & Associates.
"Tito Morales’ comments are unfortunate and irresponsible." Bolt said. "As usual, Tito speaks without knowing the facts."