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San Salvador Residents Fear For Future After Club Med Closure

Club Med’s Columbus Isle Resort in San Salvador.

Club Med’s Columbus Isle Resort in San Salvador.

By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT

tsmith-cartwright@tribunemedia.net

THE closure of Club Med with the loss of 190 jobs has left many residents of San Salvador uncertain of their financial future.

The all-inclusive resort, sprawled along Bonefish Bay Beach in Salvador, is responsible for most of the employment on the island.

One hundred and seventy-two of those who lost their jobs are members of Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU).

The Tribune spoke with Lynette Storr, a room attendant at the resort and also a chief shop steward of the BHCAWU. She is a bit doubtful of the promised opening in 2021 and said all they can do is pray.

She said: “We don’t have a clue what we are going to do. We are just putting our trust in God and praying and hoping that come December, Club Med lives up to their word and reopens.

“My personal opinion is that I don’t see it opening in December 2021. I see Club Med open in 2022. I feel that way because they have just paid out a lot of money in severance pay on January 4. If a company pays out that kind of money at the start of the year, I don’t see them coming back and opening in December. Anything is possible but I don’t see it.

“We are just hoping that this virus is contained so that guests can travel. We don’t want it to be a situation where they open and no guests are travelling. That is what we are hearing is happening to Atlantis and Baha Mar. Club Med’s guests primarily come from France where COVID is spiking. As much as we want the hotel to open, we prefer for them to wait to see if the vaccine works and the virus is contained.”

Ms Storr said employees at the resort would not want the property to open earlier and then have to shut right back down due to lack of guests.

She continued: “Some persons who are not from this island have to return. They had to pack up and leave. Club Med is the main income here and some government jobs. Some people will start selling food on the side to try to make an income but persons are not spending like that because you can’t just spend off the money you got for severance. We are not sure what we are going to do, but we can just hope for the best.”

Ms Storr said the severance pay-outs were satisfactory to line staff, but claimed there are issues with the amount of money paid out to supervisors.

She said: “The line staff got what we were supposed to get. If you are here for 12 years or more, you get 24 weeks of your salary. That is law. But according to the law, the supervisors didn’t get what they were supposed to get. I think the union is working on that with Club Med to see how best the supervisors can get the rest of their money.”

Hanzell Moss, who also speaks French, has worked at several Club Med properties around the world and is now retired as an actual staffer, but takes photos of guests at the resort daily and also has a bicycle rental business connected to the resort.

Mr Moss said: “San Salvador’s Club Med has the sweetest deal out of any resort in the area. For instance, most of the maids go home with $550 a week. The least they go home with is $400. Also there are a lot of benefits like getting money on your birthday and after knocking off from work and going home, you are allowed to come back to the resort to eat dinner. Lots of benefits.

“Club Med is the main employment on the island. Guests are hitting me up on Facebook asking me when we are going to open back up. The closure affects the island directly because even if you don’t work for Club Med, you have some spin off business that is connected to Club Med. “Some people might make it because they might have a wife or husband who has a government job here. They should be fine. It’s going to be rough, so I hope everyone takes care of the severance that they got.”

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