The labour ministry is still waiting for a response from Scan Café after the ministry sent a letter seeking clarification from the company for relieving 67 employees on May 3.

Following their termination, the employees had submitted a petition to the ministry on May 4.

An official from the department of labour said that the letter was sent to the company last Friday and that it is expecting a response this week.

“We were fully aware on the number of employees being retrenched and since all of them were from different units, the employees were asked to submit a written complaint,” the official said. “The Scan Café official had earlier approached labour ministry to only discuss the retrenchment process according to the labour and employment Act 2007.”

Following the retrenchment, the employees submitted a six point petition to the ministry stating that even after working hard for the company for almost five years, they were terminated without notification.

One of the employees said that the company had claimed that the employees were retrenched based on their performance over the last eight months. They claimed that employees who had served for less than a year were not asked to leave but those who have served for almost five years were retrenched.

“How can the company then claim that it was based on the last eight months’ performance? The company had earlier informed that it would retrench employees from one unit only but later employees from other units were also retrenched,” the petition stated.

The company’s director-operations, Ramendara Narayan in earlier interview with the Kuensel had said that the company had to take the decision because of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which would come into affect from May 25.

“GDPR is a new law passed in January this year in European Union (EU) and this has made the company lose the European clients,” Ramendara Narayan said. “Whichever company is dealing with export of private data of EU citizens out of the country will have to comply with the GDPR by May 25.”

The director-operation said that Scan Café also has clients in Europe that help export data to Scan Café in Bhutan. But now that they have to comply with GDPR, the company decided to retrench the employees as it has lost the EU clients.

He said that the relieved 67 employees dealt directly or indirectly with the European clients and the decision were taken only for those that had direct impact on the European clients.

The employees would be relieved after two months with two months gross salary (including 100 percent performance incentives) in lieu of notice period plus all other separation benefits as per the company service rules.

A US-based company, Scan café that digitalises, edits, and organises photos and videos employs the highest number of Bhutanese employees. The company currently employs about 400 Bhutanese.

Yangchen C Rinzin