By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Senior Reporter
BAHAMAS Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union President Darrin Woods said Atlantis’ decision to lay off 700 workers was inevitable and will be welcomed by the scores of employees who agitated for severance cheques.
However, he doubts as many as 700 employees wanted this outcome.
Atlantis President & Managing Director Audrey Oswell cited the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the future of travel as the reason for letting go 9.6 percent of staff, adding that Atlantis’ business model requires fundamental, long term shifts like reducing the size of its workforce.
Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson told Tribune Business on Monday that it was “almost inhuman” for furloughed workers to wait another three months without severance pay after Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis tabled a resolution in Parliament extending the country’s state of emergency and associated emergency orders.
His comment echoed the sentiments of people like Areba Bridgewater, a waitress at Atlantis who told The Tribune in January that she was past her breaking point waiting on Atlantis to let employees go.
Mr Woods said yesterday: “We weren’t expecting this announcement from Atlantis but at some point, it had to happen. Everyone knew something would come with what happened with the emergency order, whether the order was expired or not. Atlantis is now the last hotel to make anyone redundant. The Melia did two rounds. Hilton, Club Med and others, they’ve all done it.”
Still, Mr Woods conceded that being laid off will be difficult for some.
“I doubt it would be 700 who wanted to go,” he said. “Atlantis sent us a letter yesterday evening saying they now need to engage us to know the areas affected, persons affected, people’s tenure, etc. We said to them they should employ a formula that people asking to go should be let go. Some persons made their cry public in the public domain. This also opens the door for employees to come and say, ‘I want to be made redundant.’ You can’t now say because of the emergency order you can’t let them go. You moved the bar to where you need it to be, but you can’t hold on to it and hide behind it.”
Mr Woods said the redundancy exercise creates uncertainty for employees of Atlantis who remain.
“Persons who wanted to go, it brings finality to their plea,” he said. “They could move on with their lives and rebuild because they’re no longer in limbo anymore. For others, it creates an air of uncertainty. Other hotels made some staff redundant then came back again and did the same thing. Most hotels have done two rounds of redundancy so the question is, will Atlantis come back and do more?”
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