Categorized | National News

Axed Wyndham Workers March On Bay Street

Umbrella unions protested outside the House of Assembly Wednesday demanding the government intervene on behalf of the 140 workers recently laid off by the Wyndham Resort.

Union leaders led the demonstration which included workers carrying signs, singing songs and calling for Baha Mar Chairman and CEO Sarkis Izmirlian to leave the country.

The protesters gathered outside the House of Assembly in time to meet Prime Minister Perry Christie as he arrived at the lower chamber.

Mr. Christie met briefly with Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) President Nicole Martin and assured her that he would look into the matter.

Earlier in the day, Labour Minister Shane Gibson avoided making any promises to the workers, but he also said Baha Mar’s actions will be investigated.

“I can’t do anything terms of saying I demand you put these people back on the job,” he said. “I don’t think any government in any country can do that. What we can do is sit down with them and have discussions with them and we can look at the laws and we can amend the laws. We can make sure that if the laws are breached we are able to facilitate dialogue and discussions and conciliation and make sure we bring these matters to a conclusion.”

Ms. Martin, who stood alongside Minister Gibson as he addressed reporters, said she was not satisfied with the government’s position.

“I will not be satisfied until the appropriate people intervene and we get answers,” she said. “I am not satisfied with something said to a camera that sounds right. At the end of the day, we need to secure the employment and possibilities for Bahamians and people permitted to work in The Bahamas.”

Last Friday, 140 employees from the Wyndham Resort were called into an emergency meeting where they were advised that their employment with the company was being terminated without cause.

The union contends that the resort, now owned by Baha Mar, violated its industrial agreement with the union when it disengaged the workers without first notifying the union.

However, the industrial agreement between the parties expired nearly five years ago and Ms. Martin has recently confirmed that the most recent agreement, which expired last month, was never registered with the Labour Tribunal.

But Ms. Martin insisted that even though an agreement expires, the terms and conditions of the agreement are still valid.

The union president also accused Baha Mar of forcing some of the displaced workers to sign deeds barring them from applying for jobs with the company for at least 18 months.

“Something is fundamentally wrong with that and if the government doesn’t see the flaw in that we are in trouble,” Ms. Martin said. “I am a trade unionist, but I am a Bahamian first. This is all about putting Bahamians first.”

The unions have vowed to keep up the demonstrations if the government fails to act soon.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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