By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
WHILE the announcement of a deal to remobilise Baha Mar may have eased some fears over the fate of the beleaguered property, it provides no comfort for scores of workers who are still employed at the shuttered resort.
In an interview with The Tribune, one employee detailed the psychological burden of an anxiety-filled work environment that has dogged resort workers since more than 2,000 jobs were cut and the property placed in receivership last year.
The employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, urged the government and stakeholders for an intervention to protect remaining workers from being exploited due to job insecurity.
“They told us they don’t know if we will still have a job when the new investors come on,” the employee said.
“So we’re coming into work everyday not knowing our fate. Mentally coming in everyday trying to be as positive as they could, to the point of kissing butt in some cases, not that it matters. Everyone is trying to do their best, holding on to their jobs hoping that when the time comes they will be spared.”
The employee added: “If we knew that we will not be taken advantage of, if we could get that confirmation it would be a lot better. We’re trying to make the best of it but we don’t know where we stand. I would think senior persons would try to hold onto their jobs as best as they could even if that means eliminating other employees.”
The mega resort was first scheduled for December 2014 opening, but was delayed to March 2015 and again to May 2015.
The property was placed into receivership last October.
Last year’s layoffs at the resort affected 1,440 non-active employees and 580 active employees, including members of management and line staff. Employees’ final salary payment did not include severance or redundancy pay.
The government last week expressed optimism that the claims of former Bahamian workers at Baha Mar will be settled by the end of the month - part of a deal brokered between the government and Export Import Bank of China to remobilise the stalled resort.
“It is my hope that this would be brought to the forefront,” the worker continued, “especially considering the recent announcement of compensation for previous employees so that current employees would know that their jobs are secure and that they will not be taken advantage of in the meantime.”
“Five people have left within the year,” the worker added, “and whoever is left has the responsibility of picking up the slack. The workload has increased for remaining employees with the unfulfilled promise of hiring new employees, while deadlines remain the same.
“Additionally, since employees were advised that for the moment their current employment status depends on their performance there is obvious concern.”
Pointing to the recent mass redundancy action at Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort that saw 600 workers terminated without notice, the employee lamented that the layoffs did not inspire confidence in the fate of Baha Mar workers, or the prospects of finding a new job in the hotel industry.
The employee added: “It is a reality and a daily struggle for some of us who return to work on a daily basis, not knowing what the future holds as far as employment with Baha Mar is concerned.”