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Sandals Accused of Union Busting

Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson and attorney for Bahamas Hotel Maintenance and Allied Workers Union’s (BHMAWU) said the 600 workers at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort and Spa are victims of union busting.

The employees were sent yesterday to Christ the King Anglican Church to collect severance cheques after the resort suddenly closed during the peak high traffic tourist season.

Mr. Ferguson, who was a guest on Love 97’s Issues of the Day with host Wendall Jones, TUC said he will have to ensure the individuals got exactly what they were owed.

“If you sever the relationship, and you give them say 24 weeks notice, you have to put them in a position they would’ve been in if they’re were allowed to be on the job for 24 weeks. It has to be properly determined,” said Mr. Ferguson.

“We have not actually gotten the list of the persons that they actually terminated, nor have we been advised of the amount that was calculated as it relates to the various workers. So we have our job to do, now that we know they have done it,” he continued.

For some time now, the BHMAWU and the government have made attempts to negotiate with the management of Sandals, as employees have long been complaining of unacceptable working conditions, one such challenge is a major plumbing issue.

Mr. Ferguson said he cannot understand why the resort’s executives have such a challenge with coming to the negotiating table; especially considering that the employees’ union of Sandals Resort in Antigua and Barbuda has signed on to a similar industrial agreement.

“The point is Mr. Jones, if they can have an industrial agreement in Barbuda, what’s different for the Bahamian workers? What are we doing here different? As a matter of fact, I was looking at it extensively. All of the benefits that we are asking for are identical to the benefits that they are enjoying in Antigua and Barbuda. So what is the issue? As a matter of fact, they gave them more,” he lamented.

BHMAWU President Donelle Ferguson, also appeared on “Issues of the Day”, and reiterated that Sandals’ employees, specifically those who are members of the union have been victimized and treated with utter disrespect for the past few months.

She further charged that Sandals’ latest move of the mass layoff is simply a union busting tactic.

“This is to try to destroy the union. This is a reaction, and this is the only way that Sandals knows how to react, because they did it in 2009,” she said.

“I put together a total of 250 employees were terminated, and they were all union members. So this is a replay of 2009. They can’t say that they didn’t know the union didn’t exist back then. They knew. They terminated a whole executive team,” Ms. Ferguson added.

There have not been any negotiations with the resort and the union since 2009.

At this point, the TUC President, said he now has to assess the situation, absorb all of the facts and then take what he thinks is the best course of action.


Written by Jones Bahamas

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