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Employers Could Face Jail If They Fail To Inform Govt Of Job Cuts

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

IN THE wake of Sandals’ decision to make hundreds of its employees redundant, the government wants to bring “emergency legislation” to Parliament that would make it a criminal offence for employers to fail to consult or notify the relevant minister or bargaining agent about their intention to make ten or more workers redundant.

This would be “punishable by fine or imprisonment or both”, according to a proposal put forth by the government.

The government has also recommended that employers consult the minister and bargaining agent at least 60 days prior to the redundancy exercise whenever an employer is proposing to make 10 or more employees redundant.

A document obtained by The Tribune, bearing the heading of the Labour Department, contains the recommendations. It is dated August 31, 2016.

According to the document, the government plans to not only force employers to give it and unions substantial notification of redundancy plans and to consult them, but to also remove the cap in the Employment Act which

ensures that there is a 12-year limit on the redundancy pay an employee is entitled to under the law.

The government has long advocated for such changes, but this is their latest attempt to cause members of the National Tripartite Council to discuss the recommendations and consult on them with a view to bringing legislation before Parliament later.

Robert Farquharson, the Labour Director, confirmed that he circulated the documents to members of the Council yesterday and emphasised in an interview with The Tribune that the document is intended to allow members to consult other stakeholders, but is not the final proposal.

“It is the position of the government that these amendments be prepared and read in the House of Assembly on or before September 30, 2016,” the document said.

However, the next House of Assembly sitting is scheduled for October 5.

Labour and National Insurance Minister Shane Gibson could not be reached for comment up to press time yesterday.

Nonetheless, the recommendations are in line with what he has implored the Tripartite Council to consider and agree to.

Noting that about 600 employees of Sandals were dismissed under an “alleged redundancy exercise,” the Labour Department in the document made clear that there is a strong relationship between the recent actions of resort and the government’s decision to press forward with changes to the Employment Act.

“An historic review of the (Sandals) situation confirms that most of the dismissed workers were members of the Bahamas Hotel Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (BHMAWU), the recognised bargaining agent in accordance with the Industrial Relations Act, Chapter 321 of the Statute Laws of the Bahamas,” the document said.

“The relationship between the management of Sandals and the BHMAWU is well documented and known to members of the National Tripartite Council (NTC). In the days leading up to the dismissal of these workers, senior government officials held detailed discussions with the owners, management and legal advisors of the resort all in an effort to cause the company to change their position not to dismiss the workers. Multiple recommendations were submitted for consideration that would have resulted in the company obtaining their objectives in completing the required repairs while at the same time having all the employees retain their jobs. None of these recommendations were accepted and as a result the mass dismissal of hard working and dedicated Bahamian workers.”

The Labour Department said that given the relationship between the BHMAWU and Sandals, the resort’s refusal to accept the government’s recommendations to ensure Bahamian workers retained their employment means that “the owners of the resort may have other motives in the decision in dismissing the workers.”

“The process of redundancy as articulated by the resort in this matter may be in breach of the meaning of redundancy as set out in the Employment Act 2001,” the department said.

“While the BHMAWU may be taking steps in the judicial system to protect its members, it is the duty of the government of the Bahamas to respond to enacting legislation to ensure that what occurred with these workers will never happen again.”

The document also said: “Failure of the employer to abide by the consultation and notification period for the minister and bargaining agent will result in the employer having to make payment to the employee in addition to the normal notice and severance payment.”

Of the proposed changes to the Employment Act, the document added: “In redefining the meaning of redundancy, include in the definition as a requirement a sliding scale to ensure that once 10 or more persons are made redundant the notification period to the minister and bargaining agent increases based on the amount of persons to be made redundant.”

“Redefine the meaning of redundancy in the Employment Act to clearly make a difference between what was done in the Sandals matter (ie termination of employees).”

Mr Goudie yesterday said he does not yet have a position on the recommendations.

“We just got presented with it. We’ve got our hands full and have some consultations to do,” he said. Nonetheless, Mr Goudie and other business leaders have, in the past, expressed strong opposition to removing the cap on severance pay.

“We would be concerned about that because it relates to the ease of doing business and the cost of doing business in the Bahamas,” he said earlier this week.

Meanwhile, one senior business executive told The Tribune about the proposal: “What gives the government the right to tell a private employer who they have to notify prior to taking a business decision? Out of courtesy maybe - but not mandatorily.

“It is essentially an attempt to interfere with how a business is run,” the executive said. “Why in the hell would the government expect anyone to invest in this country ever again?”

Comments

banker 3 years ago

Why in the hell would the government expect anyone to invest in this country ever again?

That's is what they are saying now after the Izmirlian fiasco. I can't believe that the government would shoot themselves in the foot with this. We aren't a communist country, for crying out loud. This would be the final nail in the coffin and is the harbinger of chronic total unemployment for the majority of Bahamians for generations.

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ashley14 3 years ago

It's your money and company, all decisions would hopefully be to prosper this company and everybody wins. But no, if you might need to lay off a few people you could go to jail. Is this what I'm understanding. I hope I read that wrong. Otherwise yeah your all screwed. I say your because I'm American and can't work in the Bahamas anyway. If I could I would of moved 30 years ago. I did leave part of my heart there.

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ohdrap4 3 years ago

i had a boss once who wrote a memo requiring that we gave two days notice of illness to avail sick leave.

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Sickened 3 years ago

You must give two days notice before you have a heart attack or stroke. Hilarious!!! Please tell us who this imbecile is.

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ashley14 3 years ago

Hey even in the states, I was admitted over the weekend into the hospital. On Monday morning I called work and I was asked if I put in for this. And this is a government job. I work for the school system.

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proudloudandfnm 3 years ago

What a stupid move...

This dumb PLP government has already killed FDI and now they want to nail the coffin shut...

We really are in deep trouble. The PLP has gone full on communist and the FNM is impotent....

We're in real trouble....

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GodLoveAll 3 years ago

Please don't let this pass. The government must be completly crazy. What is democratic about what they propose to do!? It comunism plain and simple. How can you jail or fine someone from firing someone from THEIR business.....Yes they should warn the government but that doesn't mean you should create a law that goes against democracy just so your own image isn't tainted by things like this. Leave already plp!!!!

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licks2 3 years ago

I WOULD LIKE FOR YOU TO EXPLAIN WHERE AND HOW DOES DEMORACY IS BRACHED BY PROTECTING THE SMALL MAN FROM A ROGUE AND LAWLESS COMPANY? YOU MUST BE THE GARDENER DOWN THERE AYE? YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT DEMOCRACY MEANS. . .HEY FELLA? THEY NEED TO TRY THAT CRAP IN JAMAICA. . . OR BARBADOS. . . THEY WOULD GET ROLL OUT IN A MINUTE! IF THEY TRY THAT IN ONE OF THEM "EXTREME" NATIONS. . .THEY WOULD GET "BURN OUT" FOR REAL. . .NO JOKE!

NO BAHAMIAN SHOULD GO FOR WHAT THAT COMPANY DID IN OUR NATION. . .ANTI UNION OR NOT. . .THIS IS A MATTER OF NATIONAL PRIDE. . .DON'T MIND THESE UNCLE-TOM BAHAMIANS AROUND HERE WHO ARE PUTTING THEIR HEADS IN THE SAND TO PROTECT A ROGUE OVER-SEAS COMPANY WHO IS DETERMINED THAT IT WILL NOT COMPLY WITH OUT COURT PROCESS AND OR LABOUR LAWS. Our laws give the workers freedom of association. . .even on that job. . .the privy council has already ruled that that company must give that right to persons on that property! However, the heads of that company decided that they will not comply. . .thus the wholesale "redundant" of all the staff (which means they have no need for those positions anymore) and then held a job fair to fill those very positions days later! Therefore, in future, if any rogue boss makes such irresponsible decision such as made by that company. . .local or overseas. . .their hips will be going to jail!! If ya don't want to hear you will feel!

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realfreethinker 3 years ago

When will it end We are completely F..ked now. Don't these people get it Stay out of private business. Any member parliament who accepts this bill should be sent to retirement village.

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licks2 3 years ago

I don't get it. . .when did private businesses are elected to "run" this nation? The people elected this government to "protect" them from business persons who will not realize that this country is not theirs and they too must follow the law like the rest of the masses! Private businesses are required to act as responsible citizens as well. . .not like that rogue company down the road is doing! That place will get "burned out" in its own country if they try such nonsense. . .or in any other regional country that it do business in! How come everybody is asked to be proud and protect their nation and the Bahamian is being "row out" because one rogue company is acting like it is the "law unto itself" in another man's country! Drastic times requires drastic measures by our government to cut this rotting blight from the body Bahamas! I cry shame on all you Bahamian here who think that our government is "retarded" because that rogue company forced it to take severe measures to "kill" a business cancer from out society! I think this government is still being "easy" with that group of persons at that hotel. . .I WOULD CANCEL EVERY WORK PERMIT GIVEN IN THE COUNTRY OF BAHAMIANS WHO ARE UNJUSTLY DUMPED INTO THE STREET WHILE THEIR COUNTRYMEN ARE WORKING IN THE BAHAMAS!

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B_I_D___ 3 years ago

Most retarded concept ever...well...maybe not in the light of what they have done...but it ranks up there...

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Economist 3 years ago

The politicians just want to get re-elected.
If they destroy the country in the process they don't care.

They are not, never have been and never will be interested in the betterment of Bahamians. This will chase what little investment, both foreign and local, away.

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Comrades! When are the politicians going to start jailing their own for not fulfilling the laws done on the books requiring each and every House MP, Senator and certain Political Appointees to file (on time) their respective Financial Disclosure Statements?
While the workers boss man's are sending home workers who are both qualified and willing to perform at their jobs, the political establishment are distributing jobs and very suspicious looking contracts to loyal supporters, often regardless of ability or even having to perform when and if they show up for or to do the work?
All the while the middle classes are joining the ranks of the poor and those on the political inside grow rich and richer. Of important noteworthy. The penalty of being jailed for up to 2 years at Fox Hill Prison, for not filing your Financial Disclosure Statements, for each year in office and on time yearly, just because you are no longer in office - does not free you from doing jail time. You got that? Good!

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EasternGate 3 years ago

For once I totally agree with you Tal

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Honestman 3 years ago

Tal, some spirit with common sense has just invaded your body!

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realfreethinker 3 years ago

Lol Man honestman ddi lol I like that

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TalRussell 3 years ago

Comrade Red Bloggers, I did something to save myself. Nothing short of a miracle. If heaven would/could do it for me - imagine what miracles it could/would perform on the politically misguided mindsets all you red shirts bloggers?
All (the few) the Tribune's remaining non red shirts readers are saying Amen!

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Honestman 3 years ago

Glad you have decided to give up the weed - not before time!

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banker 3 years ago

It was nose candy. It makes you run on and on without saying much, except redshirts and comrades every once in awhile.

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alfalfa 3 years ago

Typical PLP reaction to union pressure around election time. This legislation is non-sense and counterproductive to investors (Bahamian or Foreign) doing business in the Bahamas. Rather than risk jail sentences for making sometimes business saving decisions, the alternative will be to shut down completely. Will government then pass legislation saying that if you close your business without their permission, you will go to jail? Truly third world, banana republic thinking.

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licks2 3 years ago

I would have replied to you. . .but I guess given your post you will not be able to give a well though out and reasoned reply! Third world. . .that's Jamaica ya looking at there fella. . .the country you helped to build. . . third world is as third world does!

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concernedcitizen 3 years ago

This is just red meat for their under educated base with the election coming .Sandals meet with the government and told them what they are going to do ..The really problem is I bet both my pinky fingers our treasury guaranteed the billion dollars from China to finish Baha mar ..And when there is no buyer for that white elephant they will tell us how lucking we are to own a piece of the tourism pie ..With Cuba opening and home rentals the new thing we will be one third owners in a decaying ghost town on Cable beach

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Publius 3 years ago

This country is done you know. It is only continuing to exist because it has not yet sunken into the sea.

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The_Oracle 3 years ago

It is done, and those not yet done with it are bailing out. It is going to get a lot worse, with no guarantee it will ever get better. For the record, I'm an optimist! I only hope that those responsible who have enriched themselves are one day brought to justice, no matter which country they have re-joined their pilfered money in!

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EasternGate 3 years ago

Perry isn't worth shit....Minnis isn't worth toilet paper... this Country stinks of corruption and incompetence!

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SP 3 years ago

.. Malarkey, Twaddle, Rigmarole, Poppycock, Balderdash, & Fresh Steaming Horseshit ..

You can tell an election is on the horizon. Silly season has kicked in full throttle!

These jackass's don't have enough sense and nerve to charge people for hiring and housing illegal migrants, and they want us to believe they will enforce this nonsense?

Nothing will become of this, or anything else these pirates promises in the next 9 months leading up to May 2017!

PM Perry Gladstone Christie is an unequivocal, complete, abject failure with frills, bells and whistles. He's grabbing at straws to get his head above water, which simply CANNOT HAPPEN regardless of what he says and does!

I predicted the 2012 PLP "Bahamians First" & "We Believe In Bahamians" campaign slogans would be the death of them if they didn't deliver. So said, so done!

NOBODY will fall for today's asinine political ploy, or their "Stronger better Bahamas" bullshit.

PLP ran "out of rope," crashed and burned from the failed gambling referendum. They have no expendable political currency left!

Christie Is TOTALLY DONE!

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ashley14 3 years ago

Has the Bahamas ever thought about becoming a U S Territory. It would change the lives of it's people drastically. I don't mean the US take over. I don't see this at all in the Virgin Isles, St Thomas etc. American's still didn't take over, but It brings in all kinds of jobs. You change the economic status of most Bahamians you also would see crime going away. Give these kids some hope for a strong future. I don't know. Maybe I don't understand the economics enough, because I only say this for the future of the country and it's people.

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ohdrap4 3 years ago

we would more likely turn into puerto rico than into st thomas.

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ashley14 3 years ago

Maybe the people are so ready for a change that they would be happy to work for a life they always wanted and deserve. You could definitely make it your own choice. If the Islands didn't change, you could always go to the other 50 states and make the life you want. Heck the South American countries people have all moved here and made it their home. They are making a good living, and send money home every week to their family members that are still there. In the states, if you want to work you can find a job. Although I will admit I don't know the history of how the other island's came about to become part of the US as territories. I'm sure it's not a simple task, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. You know at least bring industry to the islands, manufacturing of some kind. Maybe clothes. Maybe food, something besides tourism. I think tourism would grow naturally with the improvement in the islands economy. I want the best for the Bahamian people.

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asiseeit 3 years ago

Those in government are the ones that need jail time, F#@king criminals!

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John 3 years ago

They should rewrite a law requiring all politicians to give notice before an election if they intend to be crooked, corrupt, inept, lousy, non productive, anti-citizen, against local business and pass any laws that go against their election mandate. Punishment is jail time and hefty fines, especially on corruption and flogging in the Public (Rawson) Square. twice.

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ashley14 3 years ago

laughing, that's what they are asking!

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ashley14 3 years ago

The birds are starting to sing this morning. My favorite time of day! I wish I was there. I would leave and go down to the docks and watch them bring in all the mornings catch. Buy some conch and fish and go home for a nice Sunday lunch with friends. I will soon. Lisa

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licks2 3 years ago

This is the fitting outcome for poor and dumb HR decisions. . .if the employer will not cease their exploitation of workers, the government is duty bound to do so. . .that bunch of crap done by sandals is an international scandal. . .YOU CANNOT MAKE JOBS REDUNDANT AND REHIRE A FEW DAYS LATER. . .IN ORDER TO GET RID OF A UNION THAT THE PRIVY COUNCIL HAS ALREADY RULED IS LIGITIMATE! Any of you Bahamians here who will agree that an overseas company comes into your country and refuse to follow the running of your Supreme Court is NOT IN THE BEST INTEREST OF YOUR NATION! Sandal is acting like a rogue company. . .SHE MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH HER NONSENSE. . .AND IF THE OTHER COMPANIES IN THIS NATION "GO ALONG" WITH THEM AND THEIR POOR HR PRACTICES AND SAY NOTHING TO CORRECT HER. . .THEN THEY ALL WILL GET WHAT THE DUCK GOT. . .END OF STORY. . .CORRECT YOURSELVES OR THE GOVERNMENT MUST DO YOU SO TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE FROM POOR EMPLOYERS PRACTICES!

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BMW 3 years ago

licks2 so only the foreigners are supposed to obey laws in this country??????? The government has been ordered by the courts to return Balmoral Island to its natural state, WHAT HAVE THEY DONE???????????? Sandals got rid of the whole lot in order to rehire who they know to be competent workers. They got rid of the slackers, thieves and problem employees that's all. You have the mindset of a government worker. A job for life, hell no, be productive, courteous don't tief all the mans goods and you will have a job!!!

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