All operations of Western Union (WU) Caribbean money transfer agency will cease from today at the five sub-agent outlets in Antigua and Barbuda, leaving over 30 workers uncertain about their future even in the face of a promise of a new agent taking over some time soon.
The development comes as Grace Kennedy Money Services (GKMS) has given up the operation of the franchise in Antigua and Barbuda after having operated it for 12 years.
In a notice posted inside the sub-agents offices across Antigua, the agency announced, “SERVICE NOTICE. Dear Customer, Please be advised that as of September 28, 2018 Western Union will no longer be able to facilitate outbound (send) transactions from Antigua and Barbuda. Additionally, as of October 3, 2018 Western Union will no longer be able to facilitate pay-outs for inbound (receive) transactions.”
Grace Kennedy issued a press statement on the matter last evening, but this was after customers of Western Union had already begun to experience difficulties with the sudden end to at least the ability to send money.
GKMS was the lone agent for the franchise, and while it has given up operations here, it will continue to operate in about a dozen other markets.
A source close to the matter said that the five/six sub-agents, which employ about 30 workers, were asked to retain the staff at the expense of Western Union which plans to resume operations by month-end, under a new agent.
But, the source said the negotiation is still ongoing, making some workers uneasy about if or when operations would resume and their future with the company.
The last time Western Union’s operations ceased was in May this year, due to system upgrades and this took two months for some sub-agents and a longer period for others.
Almost all the workers were retained as they were put to work in other departments of the sub-agent outlets which operate other businesses on site.
Back then, customers were also hit with the sudden notice of the closure, and GKMS spoke publicly after the fact, explaining the system upgrades that were needed.
This time around, GKMS said, “the decision to withdraw was taken after an in-depth review of the viability of GraceKennedy’s Antigua and Barbuda operations and is in keeping with GraceKennedy’s long-term strategic goal to increase efficiencies and enable sustainable growth.”
Transactions sent prior to September 28 “will be available for pick-up until close of business on Wednesday, October 3, 2018. Thereafter, unpaid transactions sent to Antigua and Barbuda will be refunded to senders.”