By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
TOURISM and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday officials of the union representing Grand Lucayan managers have refused to communicate with him, despite cordial discussions more than a week ago.
Their actions, the minister said, have left him “alarmed”.
Mr D’Aguilar began negotiating with the union after they seemed to have been unable to reach an agreement with Michael Scott, Lucayan Renewal Holdings chairman, over voluntary separation packages.
Mr Scott told them to either take a final offer of $3.1m or risk getting less when they are terminated as part of the hotel’s transition to new ownership.
While the minister has tried to intervene, it seems he’s being ignored.
“I keep calling their phones and they don’t respond to me so I don’t know what’s going on, so very interesting,” Mr D’Aguilar said, adding he also called representatives yesterday morning.
“I don’t know. I can tell all the people in Grand Bahama that their representatives are not speaking to me as the minister and I had a very cordial discussion with them.
“We left that meeting (and) they were to get some information back to me and I called them on the phone even today, no response from anyone. I don’t know what strategy they’re pulling, but I’m an open and transparent guy and I am ready to talk and I want the people in Freeport to know that I am doing my endeavour best to get the matter settled and their representatives for some reason haven’t gotten back to me.
“I have been trying to reach them for the last seven or eight days.”
“Call me,” he urged.
As for the level of discussion between the managers and Mr Scott, the minister did not comment directly, but he said he immersed himself into the matter.
“I am a financial guy so I wanted to see (numbers) specifically broken down by individuals.
Give me the spreadsheet. Let me work it out. Let me see whether we’re addressing all of the particular concerns and so, yes, I have immersed myself into the weeds of the negotiation.
“I was under the impression that we were making good progress and I don’t know what strategy they’re pulling. I don’t know what’s going on, so we’ll wait and see.
“But I just want the employees in Grand Bahama to know that their representatives are not saying anything to me so I’ll wait to hear from them. The ball is firmly in their court.”
Last month, Mr Scott said unless the government decided otherwise, the board was firm about what was considered a “very generous” offer of $3.1m, $100,000 more than the initial offer of $3m.
Mr Scott said neither the government nor the board would want to pass the issue on to proposed new joint owners, Royal Caribbean International and Mexican port developer ITM. Therefore, he said an obligation existed for the issue to be resolved.
The government signed a letter of intent late last month to enter into exclusive talks for the proposed new owners to take over the beleaguered resort in Grand Bahama.
The managers want $5m as part of a voluntary separation package.