The Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) will hold a strike vote on Thursday over continued difficulties in negotiating a new industrial agreement with the Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant Employers Association (BHEA), General Secretary Sheila Burrows confirmed yesterday.
Burrows said BHEA, which is representing Atlantis, the Reef, the Cove, Harbourside Resort, Melia Nassau Beach, British Colonial Hilton, Lyford Cay Club, the Ocean Club and Towne Hotel, sent a proposal, but BHCAWU burned it after finding it had “grave” issues.
“You know we burnt the proposal, right?” she asked.
“Why we did that was because our members gave us a mandate. We held two meetings on Thursday last, and the 10 a.m. meeting, the staff told us to burn it, because it had nothing in there for them.
“At the 7 p.m. meeting, the same thing was said, so we were guided by our members, and we burnt it.”
“So, because all of this which has transpired, we’re having a strike vote.”
Burrows said the strike vote will take place between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
She said employees of the Ocean Club, Atlantis, the Cove, the Reef and Harbourside will vote at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. Employees of Towne Hotel, Melia Nassau Beach, British Colonial Hilton and Lyford Cay Club will vote at the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers (BCPOU) building.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian, Burrows listed mandated gratuity amounts as well as holiday benefits and increased severity of breaches as issues in BHEA’s proposal.
“…They sent us the proposal, and when the president opened it and looked at it, there were grave concerns in their proposal,” she said.
She noted that while employees in food and beverage normally earn 15 percent for services rendered, the proposal outlines zero percent for fine dining, buffet, banquet, gourmet and specialty restaurants.
“So in all, [they] were taking the 15 percent away from the people,” she said.
Burrows added, “Then they went deeper and the Christmas bonus that is the people’s own, what they work for every year, they then said they would give it to them in January, the second pay period in January. These people get their Christmas bonus the second pay week in December every year.
“And it doesn’t say, ‘You shall get it.’ It says, ‘You may get it.’
“So, that’s under the discretion of the management, if they feel you should get it. If they feel you should not get it, you won’t get it.
“Then they went into the ham and turkey.
“We know that in the hotel industry, everybody gets a ham and turkey for the holidays. They said you may get a $50 voucher.
“Then they went into the breaches. What were minor breaches, they made major breaches. They even put sexual harassment in it. If today I come to work and I look at you, say if you are my manager, and I look at you in a funny way…you have the right to send me home. That should not be.
“They look like they want to chase the hotel industry back into slavery.”
She added, “These people have worked tirelessly for this money. They are not good enough to get an increase? They are not good enough for gratuity to be increased? Instead of going backwards, you should go forwards.
“Increase the 15 percent to 18 percent.”
She added, “To me, the investor gets everything they need, but the small man, which is the laborer in this country, gets nothing. It is so wrong.”
There have been tensions between Atlantis and BHCAWU since last year following the hotel’s implementation of a 12-point system to track lateness and absenteeism of employees, and a shift change for housekeepers.