Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe said he will speak with officials at Resorts World Bimini after casino staff at the resort recently complained they were in “constant fear” of losing their jobs.
Two weeks ago, the casino employees complained that the actions of several of its managers had them “walking around on egg shells.”
When contacted by The Tribune, Resorts World Bimini (RWB) officials responded that the resort had “zero tolerance” for the alleged actions of the managers in question.
Mr Wilchcombe, who is also the MP for West Grand Bahama and Bimini, said he would be speaking to RWB officials to ensure that the concerns of Bahamians are met with some resolution.
“The truth is we have to listen to what the Bahamian people are saying, and respond to their concerns and then of course we’ll have to get both sides of the story,” he said during a recent interview. “But the truth is for all developments, understanding the human capital is imperative, the fact that it’s the Bahamas’ greatest asset. The Bahamians must be involved, but there must be a partnership in it. Notwithstanding the fact that you are the boss, the truth is for the success of the development we require Bahamians.”
Two weeks ago, in two detailed letters sent to The Tribune, casino staff at RWB said they were in constant fear of losing their jobs due to oppressive managing tactics by several of its casino managers. The letters were copied to Mr Wilchcombe, Labour Minister Shane Gibson, and several other government officials.
The casino staff claimed that their “democratic rights” were being “whipped away” from them, and claimed tensions at the resort resembled “apartheid conditions”.
They claimed one manager frequently uses phrases such as “I order you” or “I command you to work overtime” when speaking to employees. The letters claimed that in instances where people have refused to work overtime, management has threatened to recruit foreign employees to perform the duties.
The employees claimed that one manager is so controlling he has allegedly expressed sentiments like: “This is my (expletive) casino and I would do what I want.”
Further allegations included management scheduling the employees on 16-hour shifts, and employees not being able to get a “hot plate of food to eat” after working those long hours. They also said drinking water is unavailable “90 per cent of the time”.
They asked that the government, specifically Mr Gibson, step in and “take a stand for the Bahamian people”.
However, when contacted about the claims, Mr Gibson said he was unaware of the allegations. He said the reports were “hearsay” until someone from the resort personally informed him of the grievances.
Additionally, Michelle Malcolm, RWB’s director of public relations, said RWB had “zero tolerance” for the alleged actions of the managers. She said resort officials met some of the casino staff regarding the allegations, but did not reveal the outcome of the meetings.
“The Bimini resort is succeeding and quite well,” Mr Wilchcombe added. “They’re causing the success of it. So whatever their concerns are, we have to understand them, and their concerns must be met with some resolution. We’ll be talking with the resort to ensure that the concerns of the Bahamians are met, and anything unreasonable we’ll push aside.
“But at all times we must ensure the Bahamian people are providing the service that they’re required to provide, at the same time being paid correctly, but more importantly being respected.”