Amid revelations that the government will pay Hutchison Lucaya Limited and Bahama Reef Limited over $1 million to cover the operational losses of the Grand Lucayan hotel as part of the government’s purchase of the resort, Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers (CUHSAW) President Michelle Dorsett suggested yesterday the public should give Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis the opportunity to fully explain those details before it passes judgment.
Minnis is expected to deliver a communication in Parliament today on the $65 million purchase of the resort.
“I trust this movement (the purchase), but [will] listen to the prime minister tomorrow, because I am sure they have a plan, a vision, to deal with these losses and the income, and how they are going to go about leading the matter…” said Dorsett when contacted for comment.
“But like I said, let’s listen to his [communication]. He has a vision. He is there.”
She continued, “Let’s give him a chance to speak about it tomorrow.
“He has an awesome team, which is leading it, and therefore, I think they have the vision. I spoke with them, Mr. [Dionisio] D’Aguilar (minister of tourism). They have a vision. Let’s give them the opportunity.”
According to documents to facilitate the purchase and guarantee, the former owners kept the hotel open until the completion of the sale, provided that Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited, the special purpose vehicle created and owned by the government to acquire the resort, pay a “subsidy” to cover the operational losses.
A first installment toward those losses was paid on August 15, when the sale purchase agreement was executed, though the figure was not stated.
Six more installments of $142,860 and a seventh installment of $142,840 are to be paid, according to the document.
As has been widely reported, the government is purchasing the resort for $65 million, with $30 million paid up front.
When asked what she expects to hear from the prime minister, Dorsett said she hopes to be assured that the workers are an integral part of the organization and the hospitality product of Grand Bahama.
She said ultimately the atmosphere and standards need to be improved and the union has a keen interest in being a partner in that process, which she said needs to include more training, increasing airlift and bringing tourists and domestic tourists back to the island.
Upon the execution of the sale, Dorsett indicated that approximately 50 percent of the approximately 400 employees were interested in accepting voluntary separation packages.
The final numbers for the exercise were expected to be completed last week.
However, Dorsett said yesterday that, since Lucayan Renewal Holdings Limited Chairman Michael Scott met with staff last week, approximately five percent more employees want to stay.
She said morale is up, but employees remain on reduced days, in most cases working two to three days.
Many workers have had to find additional jobs to supplement income, Dorsett said.
The union also revealed last week that workers are owed back pay dating back to 2008, as well as several years of gratuities, but has remained tight-lipped on the figure.
Dorsett explained that all final documents have been submitted to the government, but the matter is still “very sensitive”.
She said the union must give the government an opportunity to review the numbers.