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Labour Minister Summons Hotel GM


Labour Minister Shane Gibson yesterday summoned RIU General Manager Pedro Cepeda to the Department of Labour a day after the Paradise Island resort fired a group of its workers.

Mr. Gibson, while outside parliament yesterday, said he is disappointed in the decision by the executives at the RIU hotel to fire 30 employees.

The workers were terminated on Tuesday for protesting outside the hotel’s premises on Monday while on their lunch break.

Mr. Gibson said he will not stand for employers coming into the country and firing Bahamians, especially for no good reason.

“It is really unfortunate that employees would come to The Bahamas and attempt to take advantage of employees, terminate them, make them redundant and try to take away basic rights that they have as employees,” he said.

“We had two persons who had filed a dispute with the department of labour before yesterday and a couple who had filed yesterday afternoon.”

“So I asked all the other workers to go down to the department this morning to file a dispute and I asked that the general manager be summoned to the Department of Labour so the conciliation process can begin.”

On Wednesday, when The Bahama Journal arrived at the Clarence A. Bain Building, the terminated RIU employees were at the department turning in the necessary documents.

Attorney for the workers, Glendon Rolle was leaving a meeting with Labour Director Harcourt Brown and said the hotel had no grounds to terminate the employees for ‘gross misconduct’ as was stated on their letters.

In fact, he said the human resources director, who signed their letters, had no right to do so as the only person with power enough to terminate employees was not on the island.

“They’ve terminated them with cause, but no one in The Bahamas can make that determination,” he said, “That’s [where] we’re at right now.”

“The representatives from the hotel cannot make a decision and the mysterious person that has the power to do so, we don’t know if it’s a man or a woman.”

It is for this reason, he said, that workers still have on their uniforms.

“Technically they can still go back to work, because the only person that has the power to fire them did not do so; someone else did.”

Attorney Craig Butler represents the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) and said the union is involved because the hotel employees had already begun the process of becoming unionised and the union, in fact, represents the two employees who were terminated last week.

Mr. Butler said the main concern at the moment is the 30 employees that were dismissed for gross misconduct.

“Those thirty persons that came out to support Mr. Campbell and Mrs. Knowles [two previously terminated employees] were exercising their right of free association on off-time.”

“It must be made absolutely clear that those persons did not leave the job and protest.”

It is expected that the Department of Labour will continue a series of meetings with attorneys from all parties throughout the rest of the week.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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