Opposition urges: "Give workers piece of the pie"

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell. (File photo)

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell. (File photo)

By Natario McKenzie

Tribune Business Reporter


The government’s political opponents yesterday said they were “very taken aback” over the state of hotel industry industrial relations, adding: “The workers need to get their piece of the pie.”

Senator Fred Mitchell, pictured, the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) shadow minister for labour, told Tribune Business: “We are very taken aback that things have gotten to this at a time when the minister of tourism is boasting of record numbers and record rates.

“The workers need to get their piece of the pie. I will be reaching out to both sides to see how we can help, but we cannot support regression in the terms of employment. We are very concerned that workers have a livable wage.”

He spoke out as members of the Bahamas Hotel Catering & Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) prepare to take a strike vote this Thursday, having emphatically rejected the Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant and Employers Association’s opening industrial agreement offer by burning it last week.

Confirming this week’s strike vote, John Pinder, director of labour, said of the hotel union yesterday. “They do have some disputes at the Labour Department. I think that one or two have been resolved.

“I think that they want to hold a strike vote on those issues that were not resolved and, as mandated by the Department of Labour, once there is a dispute and the Minister gives the OK to have the poll conducted we have to conduct the poll. We will be conducting the poll.”

Mr Pinder added: “The gratuity is one of the issues. They are still not satisfied with some reporting that was supposed to be adjusted. I think there were some persons whose jobs were made redundant, and one of the properties is still having the task carried out on property. If you make the post redundant you have to move that job away from the property.” He did not identify the property in question. 

Sheila Burrows, the hotel union’s general secretary, recently told Tribune Business that the offer by resort employers threatened to take the union’s 4,000-5,000 membership “back 60 years”.

Speaking after union members burnt copies of the industry’s proposal during a heated meeting at Workers House last Thursday night, she said: “We got a proposal from them but there was nothing in it. We had actually submitted three proposals to them, one under the former president, Ms Martin, and two under Mr [Darren] Woods.

“We recently went to the Labour Department and because of that they sent us a proposal. I think they just sent it to say that they sent us something.”

The most controversial proposals in the offer from the BHREA, the employers bargaining group that negotiates industry-wide industrial agreements, are elimination of the automatic 15 percent gratuity and delaying the payment of Christmas bonuses until the second week of January.

In addition, the Christmas bonus will be tied to the hotel’s performance, and not guaranteed. Nor will the traditional provision of Christmas ham and turkey by resorts for their staff be guaranteed, as Ms Burrows accused the industry of “taking away all the benefits” previously obtained for workers by the union.

Russell Miller, president of the employers’ negotiating body, the BHREA, in an e-mailed response to Tribune Business inquiries said simply: “There is a process for negotiations with the bargaining unit, and we intend to fully adhere to that process.”

The last industrial agreement between the two sides expired back in 2013, and its terms are being treated as if it is still in effect. This resulted from the union missing the October 8, 2012, deadline by which it had to submit its proposal for a new industrial agreement - as it was required to do by the conditions set out in the old deal.  


bogart 5 years ago

HORRIFIED !!!!!!........da failure to understand at senior former Ministerial Executive level that increased tourists dont necessarily meaning dat any increased income is to share around.....specially not understanding in da premier industry...!!!!!!.......might now be money to pay past due bills......seasonal tourist business....go into overdraft whichin fluctuates....


moncurcool 5 years ago

That the mentality we have. When will be get bigger than that and stop wanting people to get a piece of they pie, but give them the tools to make their own pie.


sheeprunner12 5 years ago

Fweddy has some serious onions to talk about "piece of the pie" ....... when the PLP Cabinet and their PEPs raped and pillaged the Treasury from 2012-2017 ........ Shameless moron.


proudloudandfnm 4 years, 12 months ago

How does Fred not bite his tongue when he says stuff like this???????

All the PLP ever does is take for themselves and he wants to say crap like this?????


Sickened 4 years, 12 months ago

All valid arguments. The PLP and their free money mindset is sickening!


banker 4 years, 12 months ago

If you don't own the pie, you can't apportion the pieces.


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