D’Aguilar: Managerial reps ‘gone quiet’ in VSEP talks
Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday he is “a little alarmed” that representatives for the managerial staff at the Grand Lucayan resort have suddenly “gone quiet” with regard to the ongoing negotiations for voluntary separation packages (VSEPs).
However, Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association (BHMA) President Obie Ferguson refuted those claims, asserting that he hasn’t been able to reach the minister.
Ferguson told The Nassau Guardian, “I made a couple calls this morning to reach Mr. D’Aguilar but his phone is giving me a busy [tone]. I saw where he called me and I returned the call that’s why I’m asking to see him now. I’m trying to reach him as I speak to you.”
Speaking to reporters outside Cabinet, D’Aguilar said, “I had a very cordial discussion with the union I would say almost seven, eight days ago and all of [a] sudden they’ve gone quiet.
“I keep calling their phones and they don’t respond to me, so I don’t know what’s going on.”
He added: “I can tell all the people in Grand Bahama, the managers, that their representatives are not speaking to me, as the minister, and I had a very cordial discussion with them.
“We left that meeting [and] they were to get some information back to me and [when] I called them on the phone, even today, no response from anyone. So I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what strategy they’re pulling but I’m an open and transparent guy, ready to talk.”
D’Aguilar said he was “under the impression that we [were] making good progress” with negotiations.
When asked if he believes negotiations have reached a stalemate, the minister said, “I don’t think so.”
He continued, “We left the meeting and we all had a very cordial meeting and I was to go and speak to my principals and they were to get some additional, glaring information that was missing so that we could finish the spreadsheets and I can’t get them. I don’t know what’s going on.”
D’Aguilar added: “Their representatives are not saying anything to me so I’ll wait to hear from them. The ball is firmly in their court.”
The government purchased the Grand Lucayan resort last year for $65 million with $30 million paid upfront. It is expected to handle separation packages for the 91 managers who applied for VSEPs.
Negotiations between the managerial staff and Lucayan Renewal Holdings, the government’s special purpose vehicle charged with preparing the resort for sale, have been contentious in recent months.
Last month, it was revealed that negotiations had reached an impasse.
Ferguson has said the managers were seeking roughly $5 million.
However, Lucayan Renewal Holdings Chairman Michael Scott has maintained that the board will not exceed its $3.2 million offer.