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Hotel Union Threatens Strike ActionHotel Union Threatens Strike Action

The Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) said yesterday, they have had enough and before the week is over,  the Union will know if they will strike for a new  Industrial Agreement. 

The issues are said to be many, including the prospect of a change in the shift system at the Reef and The Cove at the Atlantis Resort, to the implementation of a 12 point system, the latter of which hotel managers withdrew sometime back in December. 

However, the major bone of contention, according to BHCAWU General Secretary, Sheila Burrows is the recently proposed industrial agreement, which she called a slap in the face to hotel workers. 

“At this juncture we’re putting forth a strike vote for the industry at large, as so many things led up to why we are doing this strike vote. 

“We filed on all of the properties, because we sent individual proposals to every property; all hotels under the bargaining unit of [the] Hotel Union,” Mrs. Burrows said. 

Hotel Properties include the A-Four Seasons Ocean Club, Harbour Side,The British Colonial  Hilton, Melia, Lyford Cay and the Atlantis Resort. 

“These employees have not gotten an increase from 2012, seven years. It is now 2019, and in the master agreement there is nothing in there for them. 

“Absolutely nothing in there for them!” Mrs. Burrows said. 

She  lamented that the proposed Industrial Agreement sought to eliminate the 15 percent gratuity that she said supplements hotel workers pay at the end of the week. 

“In the Food and Beverage Department/Fine Dining, zero percent; Gourmet, zero percent; Specialty, zero percent; Buffet, zero percent; Banquet, zero percent, nothing! 

“It seems like they want to take us back 40 years; but I won’t say 40 years, I will say 60 years, they want to take members and this union back. 

“We will not stand by idly and allow nobody to infringe upon the rights of our members and their employees. 

“Firstly that’s their employees, secondly they’re our members, so we have to stand up and fight for the rights of those people,” Mrs. Burrows said. 

According to the General Secretary, there has not been a registered Industrial Agreement since 2003, despite the fact that two separate proposals were submitted under two different union leaders. 

“We have been fighting for quite a while. Two proposals have been sent out one under Ms. Martin’s administration and the other under Mr. Darren Woods administration and to send out two proposals, it’s like you’re pushing us like ‘who ya’ll think ya’ll are’. 

“The first proposal we sent out they said we did not live up to the 90 days, [but] we were within our rights because no where have they ever gotten a proposal within 90 days or sat around the table. 

“But they beat us with that and we took it. We sent another. But what they are doing is taking the employees as fools; it is not right,” Mrs. Burrows said. 

Mrs. Burrows further informed that prior to this decision, to conduct a strike vote, the union attempted to reach out to both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Tourism. 
“We have written the Prime Minster about three times, nothing. We have written to the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar Minister of Tourism,  nothing. 

“But now we can get a call from the Minister of Tourism. When we wanted to sit with them, to let them know what was happening, we wanted to make sure that they were aware of what was happening, nobody reached out to us,” Mrs. Burrows said. 

The BHCAWU has almost 5,000 members, Mrs. Burrows is appealing to all members to vote in the upcoming strike vote poll on Thursday.

“I’m admonishing, I’m asking all employees, all members, we need you to come out, come out and exercise your rights. 

“Come out and vote yes!” Mrs. Burrows said. 

As for if the Ministry of Labour will step in and intervene on the matter, Director of Labour, John Pinder said that “as mandated by the Department of Labour, once there is a dispute and the Minister gives the okay to have the poll conducted,  we will have to conduct  that poll. So, we will be conducting that poll,” he said. 

Written by Jones Bahamas

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