By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
LABOUR Minister Dion Foulkes said yesterday he is seeking a ‘legal opinion’ as to whether the Bahamas Hotel Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (BHMAWU) is still the bargaining agent for employees of Sandals Royal Bahamian.
BHMAWU president Donnell Ferguson recently called on the government to intervene and address relations between the union and management at the all-inclusive Cable Beach property.
Mr Foulkes told Tribune Business: “I met with the union along with Obie Ferguson of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) and we discussed the matter. The whole question of recognition is one for the employees and the union. There is a whole process that has to be followed and once that is followed the Registrar of Trade Unions who is the Director of Labour would make recommendations in terms of recognition. “Due to the layoffs at Sandals which occurred over a year ago, the entire staff has changed and therefore we are seeking a legal opinion on whether the current union is still recognised as the union for the employees. That is something the Director of Labour is seeking advice on so he can advise me,” said Mr Foulkes.
Six hundreds workers at Sandals Royal Bahamian were made redundant back in August 2016 when the resort announced a $4m renovation to be undertaken during a two-month closure of the property.
The BHCAWU and its TUC affiliate accused Sandals of the “highest level of union busting” over the abrupt closure. BHMAWU and Sandals have been at odds over the issue of recognition for years. BHMAWU secured a 2011 ruling by the Privy Council that the resort recognise it as the bargaining agent.
Mr Foulkes said yesterday: “I have been in talks with management and owners of the hotel with respect to many issues including that. I don’t want to get into the details of those discussions but I am very hopeful we can come to an amicable solution which both sides can be pleased with.”