February 17, 2021
While expressing regret that 300 Melia employees are now out of work as a result of the decision of the Cable Beach property’s owners to close for a two-year renovation, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday 150 construction jobs will be provided, and noted that 800 people will be brought back to work when Baha Mar’s SLS and Rosewood hotels reopen on March 4.
“Whenever Bahamians lose jobs, it’s something that concerns the entire government, especially the Ministry of Labour,” Foulkes said.
“We try our best to talk to the employers and get them to maintain their level of staffing so that Bahamians can feed their families and meet their obligations.
“It isn’t something that is welcomed by the ministry, but, as you know, we’ve [put in place the unemployment] assistance program at National Insurance and we’ve expended so far, as the minister (Brensil Rolle) revealed today, over $200 million in assistance, and that has been extended to the end of February.
“The Cabinet will make a decision at the end of February whether to extend it to March. That is something that the employees at Melia can look forward to.”
Melia, which sits adjacent to the future Baha Mar waterpark scheduled to open this summer, will commence an extensive $100 million renovation and reopen in spring 2023, its owners announced.
Foulkes said the owners have consulted the unions that represents the impacted workers and will pay them full severance pay in accordance with the law.
“They were planning this for a long time,” he said of the renovations.
Foulkes said Baha Mar owners also advised that they have given their employees $80 million in support and assistance since last March.
“The theme park that they are building is coming along well,” he said. “That project is almost completed.”
Yesterday, Foulkes also maintained his position that unemployment in The Bahamas is drastically down when compared to the initial months of the pandemic.
He said with the easing of restrictions on businesses, most businesses in the private sector have reopened and brought employees back to work.
“There has been a tremendous return to people getting their jobs back,” the labor minister told The Nassau Guardian.
Foulkes rejected the view that he and Director of Labour John Pinder were presenting conflicting information, though Pinder said on Sunday that he would not characterize the state of unemployment in The Bahamas as being drastically down.
Pinder also said that taking account of the many workers still furloughed, around 40 percent of the work force is out of work and estimated that the actual unemployment rate is hovering between 26 and 28 percent.
Baha Mar’s Grand Hyatt is currently open, reportedly with occupancy levels around 20 percent in a season that traditionally would have been the busy season.
Only 2,500 of its 4,500 workers are already back to work.
News date : 02/17/2021 Category : About Bahamians