By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
MORE than 300 workers at the Grand Lucaya Resort are expected to take a strike vote on Friday following the termination of 30 workers this week from the resort.
Michelle Dorsette, president of the Commonwealth Hotel Workers Union, said the poll will be held between 9am and 5pm at Le Topia on East Sunrise Highway. She said 368 hotel workers, including those who were laid off, are eligible to vote.
On Wednesday, 30 security officers were terminated at the resort. Management had given notice of termination and said it was committed to have those affected workers rehired by the companies to which services would be out-sourced. That, however, is not sitting well with union officials. Ms Dorsette said management is in breach of the labour contract.
She is accusing management of failing to follow the proper steps outlined in the industrial agreement concerning the lay-offs.
President Dorsett also said that the resort cannot transfer permanent workers to another company. She has learned that security services at the resort have been out-sourced to Simms Security.
She claims that the workers would have no benefits, and would be working more hours and earning much less.
“This is not right that the workers are being rehired as casual workers,” Ms Dorsette said. “These persons were earning salaries over $350 per week; they have mortgages to pay and families to support.”
She described it as “slavery.”
Obie Ferguson, union lawyer, said they will be taking the matter to the courts.
“There was an agreement in place, the agreement dictates that certain things ought to happen before you reach this question of making them redundant. They have not done it and if they fail to follow the law they will be made to account for those workers to be paid appropriate damages and possibly look to the court for reinstatement. In the meantime, he is calling on the government to intervene.
John Pinder, president of the Bahamas Public Services Union, said the loss of jobs in Grand Bahama is very unfortunate. “It is once again a sad day in our country when we continue to witness Bahamians losing jobs in these very hard economic times, especially here in Grand Bahama.
“While we appreciate the fact that some companies are also having challenges financially, there has to be a more human and realistic approach in finding ways to reduce their expenditure.”
Mr Pinder is calling on the Minister of Labour to amend the Employment Act.
He said the NCTUB had made recommendations to the government more than five years ago.
They are that:
• No employee should be terminated without reasonable caused.
• Where positions are made redundant, employees affected should be given first opportunity to fill any vacancies they may be suitable for in that business establishment.
• That if the redundancy post reopens within five years, the employee that held the position, should be given the first opportunity to be rehired at no lesser salary or at the standard salary.
• That the functions of the position made redundant, shall not be renamed.