The Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.
By SYANN THOMPSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE BAHAMAS Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union and Atlantis are set to go to court this Friday, after last week’s protest by workers was called “unlawful” by the Paradise Island resort.
Union President Darren Woods told The Tribune the matter of whether his union’s strike action last Thursday was lawful is expected to be determined in court this Friday. “We filed a dispute, we didn’t get it resolved, we applied for a strike vote, the strike vote was taken, we got it and we picketed based on that and those are the steps I know. But that’s what the rules say. So far as I am concerned, we followed the rules,” said Mr Woods.
Mr Woods was responding to a statement by Atlantis president and managing director, Audrey Oswell, who said that industrial action by hotel workers last week was “unlawful”.
Ms Oswell said the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association is engaged in “positive negotiations” for a new labour contract. She confirmed that hotel executives want to work swiftly to address workers’ dire issues, chief among them she said is wages. “We have been moving toward our shared goal with every intention of completing negotiations by late December,” she said.
The hotel workers walked off the job on the US Thanksgiving Day holiday, after their frustration erupted over unresolved issues with their industrial agreement. Protestors included workers from the maintenance and housekeeping departments. A housekeeping staff member told a local media outlet that they are finding it hard to live because the cost of living continues to increase but their salaries have not increased. “Everybody can come say how the hotel is booming and everyone making money, but we have yet to make anything, you cannot go to the bank to get a loan for a house because of your set salary and for us that is only $196 dollars per week,” she said.
After the protest, stakeholders were determined to do damage control and address grievances facing Atlantis workers as the acting Minister of Labour Marvin Dames reportedly met with executives of the union to work out their industrial issues and plans to continue discussions until there is a resolution.
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar expressed his disappointment with the industrial action during what he calls a critical period for business. The minister confirmed that an injunction was filed against workers picketing at Atlantis. “As you can imagine our tourism sector was inflicted with millions upon millions of dollars with negative public relations as a result of Hurricane Dorian. The tourism sector is reeling from the effects of that negative public relations,” said Mr D’Aguilar.
The hotel workers union wants a registered industrial agreement and currently both the union and executives are in meetings negotiating in hopes to achieve that.