Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday that negotiations and payouts for employees of the Grand Lucayan resort on Grand Bahama, who have volunteered for separation packages, are expected to be completed by Christmas.
“Minister [Kwasi] Thompson has advised me that the two unions at [Grand Lucayan] are in talks with the [government-appointed] board, headed by attorney Michael Scott, to come to an understanding and an agreement as it relates to the voluntary separation packages,” said Foulkes, on the floor of the Senate.
“Significant progress has been made with respect to the management union and to the line staff union, and we are hopeful that both unions and the new board at [Grand Lucayan] will be able to come to a settlement so that those persons who want to leave the hotel, managers who want to leave, can leave and leave with their severance packages.
“Those in the line staff union, those persons can also leave and leave with their severance packages.
“We want to get this done before Christmas so that those persons who are leaving will have their checks in hand.”
More than 200 employees of the resort have applied for VSEPs.
Attorney Obie Ferguson, president of the Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association, has said that 90 of the 115 managers applied for packages.
He said they are collectively entitled to between $3 million and $3.5 million.
The Nassau Guardian also understands that approximately 130 line staff employees are set to receive the packages and will collectively receive an amount that totals in the low seven figures.
The resort currently employs just over 400 people.
The government is purchasing the resort for $65 million with $30 million paid up-front, with intentions to find a private buyer for the property.
On Friday, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said there may be a delay in offloading the resort to a qualified buyer. He said it is expected that the resort properties will be sold by the second quarter of 2019.
Scott, the chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd., the special purpose vehicle charged with handling the sale, said in August that the government hoped to find a buyer for the resort within the next three to six months.
D’Aguilar noted that there are 11 or 12 seriously interested buyers.
Opposition leader Philip Brave Davis said on Sunday that it is premature for the government to project a date for the completed sale of the resort, noting that the government is creating false hope and expectations for the people of Grand Bahama.
However, Foulkes insisted yesterday that there’s no truth to Davis’ comment.
“I heard the leader of the opposition say the other day that there’s some pie-in-the-sky thing about [Grand Lucayan] being sold and that we are misleading the public, but there’s absolutely no truth to what the leader of the opposition said,” Foulkes said.
“We have serious, serious contenders, persons who are involved in the hotel industry, persons who are involved in the airline business, who have sent in serious proposals to the government to purchase [Grand Lucayan], and the government is extremely pleased with the interest that has been demonstrated so far.”