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Baha Mar Hopes To End Dispute With Melia Workers

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

BAHA Mar officials remain “hopeful” that an ongoing dispute between one of its hotels and the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union over gratuity payments will be “resolved” when the two parties meet in the Supreme Court this week.

Robert Sands, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of government and external affairs, told The Tribune yesterday that heading into Wednesday’s proceedings before Justice Roy Jones, Baha Mar and the Melia Nassau Beach Resort remain committed to resolving the matter with the union “as expeditiously as possible.”

His statements come after members of the BHCAWU voted in favour of a strike over a gratuity dispute with the Melia.

The vote was held on Friday and came after eight persons were terminated from the Meliá last Tuesday amid the gratuity dispute. BHCAWU President Nicole Martin has reportedly said that while the union will not strike immediately, the union does plan to take action.

Prior to that, Tribune Business reported that Baha Mar and its Melia resort had obtained a Supreme Court injunction that bars the hotel union from taking any form of industrial action, which left workers without any leverage over their escalating gratuity dispute with Baha Mar.

When contacted yesterday for his comments on Friday’s strike poll results, Mr Sands said: “There’s an injunction still in place and we go back to court on Wednesday when the judge will deliberate on a substantive point that could help us to resolve this matter, and so we’re hopeful that that will be addressed on Wednesday.

“I’m hopeful that the judge will opine on a position that divides us, that we remain willing and able to resolve this matter as expeditiously as possible, and then we’ll go from there.”

The union filed a trade dispute with the Department of Labour after the management at Baha Mar withheld gratuity from employees until the parties could negotiate a new gratuity rate.

Last month, Baha Mar executives announced a reduction in the standard 15 per cent gratuity rate because it is moving to an all-inclusive model where food and amenities are covered in one price.

Baha Mar said it was forced to cease the normal gratuity payments at the Meliá but only after 10 months of failed negotiations to bring an agreement with the union on a new arrangement.

However, BHCAWU Secretary General Darren Woods has said that the union would not accept a reduction in gratuity because in most cases the gratuity represents the majority of the employees’ take-home pay.

On Christmas Eve, Baha Mar and its Meliá resort obtained a Supreme Court injunction barring the hotel union from taking any form of industrial action.

In a subsequent release sent to The Tribune, Melia said it had “tolerated two recent illegal work stoppages” orchestrated by the BHCAWU over its plans to reduce the gratuity rate.

Both Melia and Baha Mar said they had opted not to take legal action over the work stoppages, which would have impacted “hundreds of employees and their families,” instead opting for the injunction approach.

Nonetheless, Mr Woods pledged that the union would seek to overturn the injunction or alter its terms.

Last Wednesday, Mr Woods told Tribune Business that Justice Jones had effectively cleared the way for the union to take the strike vote. Mr Woods has maintained that last week’s firings were a “scare tactic,” however, Melia officials said the terminated employees did not meet performance standards.

Comments

chairarranger 6 years, 10 months ago

The entire automatic gratuity model is absurd and should be scrapped. Pay your workers a fully disclosed, all inclusive, complete and pre-agreed wage for work done based on output and time taken. Charge your customers a fully disclosed all-inclusive price for what they consume. No more "add on" service charges, gratuities and extra plus plus plus of any kind.

A gratuity is and should remain an unexpected, exceptional, non-automatic "tip" or "gift of generosity" from a customer for service that exceeds their expectation. This is one practice from the US that we needn't blindly follow any longer.

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USAhelp 6 years, 10 months ago

Automatic gratuity promote bad service. It also at times create bad feelings of the customers so they wont come back

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ObserverOfChaos 6 years, 10 months ago

Other all inclusive hotels have same set up that Melia is trying to implement....just these lazy a** workers want to gouge the hotel for whatever they can get cause they are new...and the union thugs want to get more press for themselves....kick them all to the curb and have the graduates of LDI take their place!

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duppyVAT 6 years, 10 months ago

HOW?????????????????? EXECUTE THEM CHINESE STYLE??????????????

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