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Union 'Not Sitting Idle' Over Atlantis

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net THE Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) is closely monitoring the Atlantis ownership situation, and is prepared to take legal action if necessary, its executive vice-president telling Tribune Business: "We are not just idly sitting by." While rumors of impending lay-offs at the country's largest private sector employer continue to surface since the announcement that Brookfield Asset Management would take over ownership of Atlantis and the One & Only Ocean Club in a $175 million debt-for-equity swap, Darren Woods said the union was certainly concerned. "Certainly we would be concerned about any impending lay-offs, because we would have spoken with the senior persons at Kerzner, who told us that there were no plans for lay-offs either now or in the future," Mr Woods said. "Until we see something different, we are monitoring the situation, and we are meeting with our attorney again next week. We would have seen the reports in the newspapers, and we hear what the politicians have been saying. Notwithstanding that this is the political season we are not taking anything for granted, because Kerzner employs a significant amount of people, "We are not just idly sitting by. We are closely monitoring the situation and are in touch with our legal team to make sure that whatever we need to do legally, that we are prepared to do it at a moment's notice." Last November, Kerzner International announced it will transfer its ownership of Atlantis and the One & Only Ocean Club to Brookfield, which has some $159 billion in assets. The deal effectively transforms Kerzner International into a resort management company, as opposed to its previous status as an owner/operator, with Brookfield forgiving $175 million owed to it in a debt-for-equity swap. As part of the deal, Kerzner International said that embedded in the ownership swap with the Toronto-based asset manager were "assurances" there would be no cuts to the resort's 7,500-strong workforce. Democratic National Alliance (DNA) leader, Branville McCartney, recently predicted that employees at Atlantis would be laid off within the next six months. According to Mr McCartney, the resort will need to cut staff following the general election in order to meet the terms of the management agreement, which requires an annual profit increase of 20 per cent. The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has urged the government to publicise details of the sale of the Atlantis resort to Brookfield Asset Management. PLP Deputy leader Philip Davis recently reiterated calls for further clarification regarding the sale and its possible impact on the resort's workers.

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