PM moves to ease Baha Mar dispute


Prime Minister Perry Christie


Tribune Business Reporter


EMPLOYEES of the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino remained on “work-to-rule” yesterday as hotel union and Baha Mar executives met with Prime Minister Perry Christie and Labour Minister Shane Gibson for a second day over the resort’s planned September closure and voluntary separation offer to employees.

   The Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU)  claimed that it had been blindsided by the resort’s abrupt closure,  and  questioned the offering of early retirement separation packages to resort employees. 

Baha Mar  announced this week that the resort would be closed temporarily for six weeks, beginning on September 4 and ending on October 17. 

Speaking briefly with Tribune Business, Nicole Martin, president of the BHCAWU, confirmed that the employees were still on work to rule and had been so since Tuesday night.

Baha Mar’s senior vice-president of external and government affairs, RTobert Sands, declined to comment on the union’s remarks noting that they were in a conciliation meeting with the Prime Minister.

Mr Sands recently told this newspaper that the  six-week temporary closure of the Wyndham Nassau Resort and Crystal Palace Casino at the tourism cycle’s “lowest point” would alleviate the “tremendous pressure” caused by underperforming business levels and nearby construction.

Mr Sands said that Baha Mar had received “a great deal of complaints” from Wyndham guests, due to the impact from construction work on the $2.6 billion Cable Beach redevelopment. That, he said, was a key factor behind the temporary closure move which impacts around 1,000 employees.

ccording to Mr Sands,  Baha Mar’s decision to offer the 1,000 Wyndham and Crystal Palace employees an Early Retirement and Voluntary Separation Plan, enabling workers to receive “an attractive compensation package” if they chose to leave the properties, was a response to staff requests for such an option.

While the Plan is similar in nature to that offered by the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) following its privatisation, Mr Sands said Baha Mar’s objectives were different, and the resort/owner operator was not focused on “targets” for head count reduction. Employees will have four weeks to decide whether to accept it. Compensation will be based on position and length of service, with separation dates dependent on the employee and their function.


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