By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Bahamas Hotel Maintenance & Allied Workers Union (BHMAWU), which is the bargaining agent for the 600 Sandals Royal Bahamian employees, said yesterday that it would “not sit quietly” in the wake of the wake to the resort’s decision to make employees redundant, calling it “a sad day for the labour movement”.
The BHMAWU is continuing its legal assault against the resort, stating yesterday that it is taking legal action for the “unfair dismissal” of the workers at the all-inclusive Cable Beach property.
Sandals on Monday outlined a $4m renovation to be undertaken during a two-month closure of its Cable Beach property, saying that the work was being “fast tracked” for what is shaping up to be its best winter season ever. This revelation came as it made 600 employees redundant.
“It’s a sad day for the labour movement. 600 employees were terminated on Monday. The union was not notified. The Government claims that it was notified one business day prior. This is unjustifiable. Our leaders are not standing up for the workers. I rest this solely at the feet of the Government. We will not sit by quietly and allow this to happen to our workers. If we allow this to happen other companies, other foreign investors will want to take the same position. I cry shame on the government,” said BHMAWU president Donnell Ferguson.
The BHCAWU and its Trade Union Congress (TUC) affiliate has blasted Sandals Royal Bahamian of the “highest level of union busting” and blasted the resort for its imminent abrupt closure, which he said was almost treasonous to the Bahamian people. The BHMAWU which falls under the TUC umbrella, has since 2009 been seeking to negotiate an industrial agreement. Last week, Sandals Royal Bahamian general manager Gary Williams and the resort’s financial controller Ronnie Mirza both appeared in a magistrate’s court for failing to negotiate with the union, unlawfully terminating several union executives and intimidating union executives. The men pleaded not guilty and were each granted $5,000 bail with one surety.
“The government is endorsing the lawlessness of Sandals. We had no other choice but to go to the criminal justice system to file charges against Gary Williams, Ronnie Mercer and west Bay management. It is a clear union busting tactic. This is not the first time that Sandals has done this. They could have kept employees on while works being carried out,” said Ferguson.