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Sandals Silent Over Plans To Close For Two Months

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

SENIOR executives at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort remained tight-lipped yesterday over the purported closure of the all-inclusive Cable Beach resort in less than two weeks.

Despite several inquiries by the Tribune, officials refused to clarify whether the resort intends to close its doors on August 15, with plans to re-open on October 13.

In a letter published on Wednesday in The Nassau Guardian, the resort blamed “circumstances” beyond its control for the pending closure and offered affected guests a chance to re-book their stays with any of the resort chain’s properties throughout the Caribbean.

The letter read: “We appreciate your patience as we work through this challenging time. We have instituted a streamlined and efficient course of action for these guests who may be affected and are extending all of our call centre resources to you.”

The resort’s General Manager Gary Williams declined comment yesterday.

Labour Director, Robert Farquharson said his office was made aware of the potential closure through the media. Moreover, he said, despite his best efforts he could not confirm validity of such reports.

His indication was that labour matters connected to the resort were still being addressed by his department, and at no point was he or his subsidiaries notified of a potential closure.

Reports received by The Tribune suggest that no employee at the resort has been notified of the closure and “all scheduled to work have reported”.

For much of the last month, members of the Bahamas Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (BHMAWU) have used media outlets to express their dissatisfaction with the resort for not recognizing it as the official union body in negotiations between workers and the resort.

As part of the group’s most recent demonstration, heavy-duty trucks and buses were parked in along the West Bay Street thoroughfare next to the Sandals property, leading to the arrest of several people.

BHMAWU First Vice President Omar Maynard during an impromptu speech outside the resort that morning criticised hotel executives for their alleged refusal to “sit at the negotiation table” as workers are being made to work in alleged substandard conditions.

It was Mr Maynard’s push that shifted the media attention to the ongoing issues at the resort. He alleged that the resort was infested with mould and overrun by rodents and other pests.

In 2011, the BHMAWU secured a ruling by the Privy Council that it be recognised as the bargaining agent for Sandals Royal Bahamian employees.

Despite this, however, Sandals has refused to negotiate with BHMAWU.

Yesterday, Long Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner issued a statement calling on the government to immediately address the issue.

“The impending closure of Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort at Cable Beach for two months beginning in 12 days is of great concern,” she said.

“The resort employs approximately 400 line staff and under 100 managers. This is a significant staff complement in a tourism economy already reeling from high unemployment and stagnant growth.

Mrs Butler Turner said: “The closure for such a length of time is yet another worrying sign for our troubled tourism industry and will affect other businesses and workers in the tourism sector. The closure comes as many parents are preparing for the opening of the school year.”

The Long Island MP questioned the lengthy time frame of the closure; the level of salary and benefits workers will receive and whether affected individuals will be entitled to National Insurance Board unemployment benefits.

“Will all of the line staff and workers be assured of employment when the resort reopens?” she questioned.

“It should be noted that it has often been a practice in the hotel industry to let go staff after the temporary closure of a hotel or resort. When were senior government officials aware of the closure? According to press reports the Director of Labour appeared to be caught off guard by the closure. The scant notice to workers of a mere 12 days is also of concern.”

Mrs Butler-Turner added: “Most workers have limited savings and rely on their salaries to make ends meet and to pay food, electricity and other bills weekly and monthly.”

“The government must urgently address the questions raised as well as any other concerns of the employees of Sandals.”

Comments

Tarzan 3 years, 9 months ago

Yes all is well in the republic. All one has to do is listen to our worthy representatives in government. Nothing to see here. Move on.

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OMG 3 years, 9 months ago

Overpriced destination living on its past glory.

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Honestman 3 years, 9 months ago

Don't worry, Perry has some "dead good" news coming soon.

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asiseeit 3 years, 9 months ago

Sandals does not have to do business in The Bahamas, nor do any other business's need The Bahamas, but we sure do need them. The unions think they run the show, guess what, they may have run 600 jobs right out of the country. Bahamians need to grow up, wise up, and start thinking of the future, the (supposed) leaders we have today are killing our country!

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alfalfa 3 years, 9 months ago

This is just another indication, that in spite of what our illustrious Minister of Tourism says, all is not well in the tourist industry. Room occupancy figures are down (Ask Atlantis). Just imagine if Bahamar was open and the additional 3,000 rooms were thrown into the mix. Hotel owners do what it takes to survive, and unions do their best to ensure they don't. When the cost of doing business in the Bahamas is factored in with the high crime rate, the increasing competition, the decrease in room occupancy, and the ever increasing union demands (which are protected by the Labour Board), and our inconsistent utility supplies, it does not take a genius to figure out what the next step is.

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BMW 3 years, 9 months ago

Unions (entitlement groups) are destroying our tourist product, why cant the powers that be see it and do something.

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Sickened 3 years, 9 months ago

Because unions have members and the unions can easily brainwash them to vote a certain way. Just like the church, unions speak to the masses - and the masses who are usually the downtrodden, less educated and most susceptible to being manipulated. A sad reality.

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Honestman 3 years, 9 months ago

Bahamas is an over priced tourist destination. The Unions will end up talking these workers out of a job,

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banker 3 years, 9 months ago

Sigh .....

..... giving odds that if it closes, it will not re-open when they say they will ...

......... also giving odds that an exit is planned or this is a cash-flow preservation strategy

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by banker

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Honestman 3 years, 9 months ago

I'm guessing that for now Sandals is looking to preserve cash flow in what is its quietest spell of the year. However, this could well be the forerunner to an ultimate exit if staff are not prepared to face the harsh economic realities of life.

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MonkeeDoo 3 years, 9 months ago

Sandals is Jamaican. They have resorts all over the Caribbean. Jamaica is # 2 in most sought after tourist destinations. Turks & Caicos is # 3. Bahamas is not even in the top 10. Do the math Bahamians. Our star no longer shines. Your government sold Baha Mar to the Chinese and Sandals is wary of Bahamian Justice. We need them. They DO NOT need us. They cam close the door and carry their ASS and leave us here suckin wind . Keep voting for Perry. He will surely feed you.

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