0

Hotel workers say govt ‘not checking’ for them

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

HOTEL workers are feeling hopeless with mounting bills, little hope and a government, they feel, is “not checking” for them, several of them told The Tribune yesterday.

In March, the hotel industry came to a screeching halt with the entrance of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many industry employees without work and “losing dignity daily” by standing on long lines for food and other forms of assistance.

Samantha Murphy, a hotel maid, said while she has mixed emotions on why “God sent the pandemic”, she has found a silver lining.

“There is something about this COVID and if we stop and look at it, we will see what it is,” said Ms Murphy. “I think it’s here for a reason. We all had to stop life as we know it and look to God for help. I think it was designed for us to acknowledge Him. I found my silver lining though. Things were really, really hard for months. The bank repossessed my car. The little I was getting was just not enough. I realised how important my earnings were, especially my tips.

“That silver lining I talked about… God gave me a talent. I know how to clean and I think I am the best at it. With confidence, I stepped out and started cleaning people’s houses and that has helped me so far. I had to put pride aside and do it to keep afloat. So far it has helped me a lot and I will continue doing it until we open again; if they take me back.

“I think the government has to take the tourism industry seriously and come up with something serious for the hotels to want to open.”

Mario Smith, an Atlantis employee, said he is managing, but it is hard. He said he has “dark thoughts” at times, but has to push past them to survive.

“All of this is just sad,” he said. “We demonstrated – they ignored us. We marched to Parliament. They ignored us. We went to the foot of the bridge, they ignored us. Now we are going to ignore them.

“This is like a crime to have us out here like this. We are not blaming Atlantis or any other resort, the problem is not them, the problem is the weak plans of the government.

“The resorts cannot and will not open up to weak plans that will not bring tourists here. This is business and it is clear that this government does not know how to manage this industry. They have not connected with the major stakeholders, the resorts, to be on one accord. I cannot tell you what darkness has crossed my mind to survive at times. I was down to cleaning cars. Yes, they assigned money for us but think of it, the money is months late, so what are we to survive on? Please tell me.”

Whitney Joseph, a pool attendant, said he was not affected by the industry shutdown as he immediately started pushing his side businesses and is also satisfied with what he gets from the government.

“I thank the government for doing what it could to help us hotel workers,” Mr Joseph said. “I used to be in problems all the time before I went to work at the hotel. So when I got the job, to keep me busy, I started doing yards on my days off and that little business started to grow. I also clean cars as well. So when the hotel closed and we had to go home, I just doubled up on my side hustles and I was straight.

“I also got the money from the government and plenty of people complain about it being late, but I look at it as my savings. I can get months of assistance at once and put it in the bank for survival. See, you have to use your common sense when dealing with this thing. No money coming in, so you have to make that money and spend it like you have sense.”

As far as Rhea Johnson is concerned, the government “is not checking” hotel workers. She thinks more needs to be done to get the industry up and running.

“I (have been a) hospitality worker for over 20 years,” she said. “I feel insulted with what is happening in our industry. I have it hard. You ask me how I am managing? Well that’s all I can tell you. I have it hard. I don’t know what to do right now. NIB is not working for me and now it’s going to be less. It is obvious that this government is not checking for us. They are not paying attention to what is happening to hotel workers. We need help. My bills are out the roof.

“They said we are opening in November, so how come no hotel is opening? Where are the people going? I feel frustrated and I am broke right now, so this is not a good time for me. If I say more, I will really show what’s on my heart and it’s nothing good right now. “

New rules will take effect on November 1, eliminating the need for tourists, citizens and returning residents to quarantine or “vacation in place” for 14 days after arrival in the country. The tourists and returning residents will need a RT-PCR negative test results that are no older than seven days to qualify for the travel visa, a revision of the current five-day requirement. They will then be tested on arrival in the country as part of new measures meant to kick start the tourism industry.

Many major hotels have announced they will not reopen until 2021, however the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island is said to be targeting a phased reopening before the end of 2020 by creating a COVID-19 free “bubble” for guests by way of the “vacation in place” model.

Comments

Jim 3 years, 7 months ago

It is unfair to the Bahamian at a small marina and resort on South Bimini, Bimini Sands that a full time American was hired and the rest of the full time employees were reduced to working a minimum of two days a week. The Bahamians need this money to survive.

0

themessenger 3 years, 7 months ago

What exactly do these people expect the government to do for them that it isn't doing already? Last time I checked the government didn't own any hotels, other than the one in Grand Bahama. Do they really believe that the owner/operators are going to open with no guests just to provide income for their workers? The ignorance and self entitlement of my fellow Bahamians continues to amaze me!

2

TigerB 3 years, 7 months ago

Indeed messenger. My sediments exactly. There was a time they were blaming the hotel Union, now it shift.. we are strange people.

0

bahamian242 3 years, 7 months ago

Government ain't check for no one, only themselves!!!!! Look at the driver through's at KFC at the end of the month. Only Government Workers!!!!

0

sealice 3 years, 7 months ago

This is what the bloody Hotel Union is for - where the big union leaders now?? gone on vacation to foreign cus they don't wanna be in Nasty ars nassau wit all de virus? Just like all the rich politicians and doctors? Why would any Bahamian that didn't have to want to stay in Nassau for a second longer then necessary??

Come on Hotel Union dues what you paying and voting for all these years - bunch of toothless fat flux getting rich off the poor man's blood and sweat......

0

Blessed 3 years, 7 months ago

Agreed stop blaming the government blame the hotel union they don’t do nothing for us .what happened to our back pay Darren promise to pay us from 2013 to date

0

Sign in to comment