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BHMA: Grand Lucayan terminations “illegal”

The Bahamas Hotel Management Association is speaking out on behalf of terminated Grand Lucayan workers.

BHMA Vice President Kirkland Russell said those employees and the union were blindsided by the move. As owner of the embattled resort property, Russell said he holds the government responsible.

Russell said not only are the terminations illegal, they send the wrong message to other privately owned properties that are feeling the pinch of the tourism shutdown.

He called the redundancies an “utter disgrace” and a “crying shame.”

“The union was not consulted with nor were advised that this was going to happen,” said Russell. “The Act speaks to what should happen. The government is bargaining with the workers, illegally, outside of not only good industrial relations, but the law.”

Russell pointed out “the union is the sole bargaining agent” for Grand Lucayan workers.

“It is an utter disgrace and a crying shame because you can’t tell the Prime Minister to follow the law. We were not given any information by the government or the management group for the Grand Lucayan resort,” he said.

Russell alleges that employees were asked to come in for a review of their 13-week unemployment benefit by the managing Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd and its chairman Michael Scott. He said when employees got there, they were told they would be terminated. Some of those employees, he revealed, had been with the resort for 20 years.

“I was made to understand from some of our members that those persons who were terminated this week are the ones whose NIB unemployment benefit would come to an end on July 15,” said Russell.

“Other persons who went in for the review who didn’t fall in that category. They just went in to check. They said they were told that they would be severed when their assistance comes to an end at the end of July or August. That is what they told me, but the government nor the hotel management said anything to the union,” he stated.

Russell warned that this maneuvering – if allowed to prevail – sends the message to other properties that they can do the same thing.

“What does this type of dealing say to Atlantis? What does it say to Baha Mar?” he questioned.

Russell urged members of the Minnis Administration to meet with union officials.

A statement from Scott, Chairman of Lucayan Renewal, termed the terminations as employee separations and noted the phased process is a fulfillment of the obligations laid out under the sale agreement prior to completing the transfer of ownership.

The statement further noted that the severance exercise covers the complete exhaustion of all vacation leave bonuses and the National Insurance Board’s 13-week benefit, totaling $1, 837,473.01 for 116 employees.

Scott’s statement also noted that essential line and management staff will continue to be engaged on a part-time or as needed basis until the transfer of ownership. Those essential employees include administrative, security, golf course and property maintenance staff.

The Minnis Administration purchased the Grand Lucayan resort back in 2018 for a whopping $65 million after it failed to secure a sale for it. The premise behind the purchase at the time was to save jobs.

In March of this year, an agreement was reached with the ITM group for the government to sell the resort at a loss for $50 million.

Clearly, based on Scott’s statement, saving jobs was not an important factor this time.

Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson has said the union intends to take legal action over the terminations.

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