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Grand Lucayan managers get $4.4 mil. VESP payout

The government has agreed to a $4.4 million voluntary separation package (VSEP) payout for the 91 managers at the Grand Lucayan resort, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said yesterday.

The resort employs 115 managers.

In October 2018, members of the resort’s management volunteered for the separation packages.

D’Aguilar said the government reached an agreement with the managers about “four or five days ago”.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, the tourism minister said, “We have a deal. The deal is for 91 employees…and the approximate payout is going to be $3.7 million, which equates to about $47,000 per employee.”

He added: “There is an independent portion of their compensation that was put into a Family Guardian annuity fund.”

D’Aguilar said, after factoring in the annuity, the total payout for the managers is $4.4 million “but the government is on the hook for $3.7 million”.

The managers voted unanimously on Monday to accept the VSEP offer put forth by the government, according to Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association (BHMA) President Obie Ferguson, who was the lead negotiator for the managers.

“I visited Freeport yesterday to have a meeting with the 91 managers who have accepted the VSEP and those who are staying,” Ferguson said.

“They voted for the package. The packages will be formalized in terms of the paperwork. I’m meeting with the minister on Sunday in the morning at 9:30 a.m. At this time the paperwork will be completed. But, yes, we have in fact reached an agreement on the VSEP package so the specifics will be in a document signed by myself and the minister.”

He said that a date has not been set yet “for the actual payout to the members”.

Last month it was revealed that negotiations had reached an impasse between the managers and the government.

Ferguson had said the managers were seeking roughly $5 million.

However, Michael Scott, chairman of Lucayan Renewal Holdings, insisted that the board would not exceed its $3.2 million offer to the managers.

But, speaking about the agreement yesterday, D’Aguilar said, “I think that both parties negotiated in good faith. I think it is a fair deal.

“There was a lot of managers that were there a very long time and who worked long and hard at this hotel and this gives them an opportunity to move on with their lives.”

He added: “I advise people to spend their money wisely and prepare yourself for the multitude of employment options when the two major projects that have been announced come into effect.”

D’Aguilar said the settlement of the VSEPs will allow for the reduction of the resort’s operational costs.

Ferguson told The Nassau Guardian that the remaining 45 managers at the resort will also receive VSEPs.

“We have also made arrangements for the VSEP program to apply to them as well,” he said.

Ferguson said it is too early to say how much those managers will receive.

In February, 150 line staff at the resort received approximately $3.2 million in payouts.

On March 27, the government signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Royal Caribbean Cruises and the ITM Group for the purchase of the resort for $65 million and the redevelopment of the Freeport Harbour.

The first phase of the development is expected to cost $195 million over two years with the creation of approximately 2,000 jobs.

According to ITM’s proposal, the Grand Lucayan resort complex will be redeveloped into an area called Lucaya Island at a cost of $30 million.

Jasper Ward

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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