The Grand Lucayan resort.
By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
VOLUNTARY separation packages for line staff at the Grand Lucayan resort could include monies owed to some hotel employees for several years, according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes.
However, Mr Foulkes declined further comment when pressed by media outside Cabinet yesterday, adding the matter was still being negotiated between the union representing workers and management.
“We have an agreement in principal with the line staff union,” Mr Foulkes said. “The union executives are now in, for the last week or so, they have been in consultation with the management at the hotel.”
It was previously reported that 227 workers — 90 managers and 137 line staff— have applied for the voluntary separation packages.
Mr Foulkes said yesterday the number of line staff was closer to 160 persons. “We have a global figure that we have agreed with them,” he continued, “we are trying to work out a specific payout for 160 persons, just to make sure that that is accurate. Some of the monies that are owed to some of the employees at the hotel go back for several years, so we want to ensure that that is accurate.”
Last week, attorney Pleasant Bridgewater, who represents line staff, revealed workers are also demanding the government provide back pay owed to the workers who will remain at the property.
Ms Bridgewater told The Nassau Guardian that members of the Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers (CUHSAW) were owed monies separate from any separation package. She underscored workers were entitled to back payment whether they opted to leave the resort or not.
Yesterday, Mr Foulkes said: “I prefer not to comment on that at this time because that is subject of discussion between union and management, when they settle that then I’ll be more than happy to.”
Mr Foulkes said there was still no agreement with the resort’s management union, Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association (BHMA), over VSEPs, but officials hoped to resolve this “soon”.
BHMA is asking for a package valued at roughly $4m.
Last month, lead negotiator and Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson said different legal interpretations may have contributed to the divide between the two sides over how much is due to middle management staff wishing to exit.
Mr Ferguson also said the Grand Lucayan is “hell bent” on using the wrong formula to calculate staff operation packages for middle managers.
Warning that the union will not compromise on this issue, the TUC president said it had nevertheless made concessions in other areas that had slashed the value of its compensation demands - originally at $5.4m - by more than $1m.