Gibson: Hotel union shirking responsibility to workers

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December 20, 2016

Calling it "unfortunate" that the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) has continued to blame the government over several recent terminations, including 61 employees at the One&Only Ocean Club earlier this month, Minister of Labour Shane Gibson said yesterday that he expects recommendations this week on amendments to the laws aimed at further protecting workers.
"We recognize that there are some deficiencies in the law," Gibson told the media. "We asked the Tripartite Council to send us some recommendations, because as you know... now that we have social dialogue, the process starts with the Tripartite Council, which makes recommendations to the minister.
"I got an email from the chairman last week, and today he is supposed to have recommendations on my desk as to how they want to amend the laws to try and further protect the workers."
Gibson said it was also unfortunate that the union "did not do what they were supposed to do and now it falls to us, the legislature".
Last week, Gibson said the terminations at the One&Only Ocean Club could have been avoided had the union not missed the deadline to submit a proposal for a new bargaining agreement.
Yesterday, he added, "It is unfair for them to say and suggest to people that we (the government) are the ones at fault for what's happening, when if they had submitted that agreement, that proposal, then members would not have been terminated the way they were."
Ocean Club terminated the 61 employees for underperforming, though BHCAWU President Nicole Martin has challenged the claim, asserting that the terminations were "absolutely wrong" and an attempt to "destabilize the union".
After re-evaluating its staff as a result of constant complaints from guests about "the lack of what they consider to be good customer service", the resort said it found some employees were not performing in line with its brand.
Martin called on the government to support workers if it wants to be supported in the next election.
Making the point that the union has not sufficiently fulfilled its obligation to protect workers, Gibson said the BHCAWU found itself in a similar position with the Melia Nassau Beach resort.
In November 2013, the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association said it had no legal obligation to negotiate a new contract, as the union failed to submit a proposal in the appropriate timeframe prior to the agreement expiring.
The five-year agreement expired in January of that year.
Martin maintained that, while the union did not meet the proposal provision, that had never stopped negotiations in the past.
Following its defeat in the Supreme Court over gratuities, the union said it was ready to resume talks over the long running rate dispute.
"The court ruled some time ago that once an agreement expires, it does not become a part of the individual terms and conditions of employment," he told the media outside the National Training Agency on Gladstone Road.
"That's why they have no access to Melia.
"That's why Melia stopped deducting union dues."
According to Gibson, the government stepped in and passed legislation for the sole purpose of validating the hotel union.
"I thought it was very ungrateful for them to keep on going in the press saying that it's the government not showing that we care for the people, when everything we did from the time we were elected in 2012, we did it for the people," he said.

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News date : 12/20/2016    Category : Nassau Guardian Stories

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