Hotel union concerns understandable, Pinder says
Director of Labour John Pinder said yesterday that he understands the decision of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) to hold a strike vote.
“Certainly I do,” he said.
“They’ve been enjoying certain 15 percent gratuity from time immemorial, and it would be difficult for them to just walk away from the 15 percent without putting up a fight.
“So, I would hope that the employer will give that some consideration as to how best to address that.”
He added, “For the most part, persons who get 15 percent gratuity are minimum wage people. They don’t pay them much funds because for the most part they rely on their tips. So, to take that away without subsidizing with some increase in salary or something, I don’t know.”
BHCAWU will hold a strike vote on Thursday after continued difficulties in negotiating a new industrial agreement with the Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant Employers Association (BHEA).
General Secretary Sheila 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.
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.
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.
Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell was also among those who expressed concern over the proposed gratuity amounts and called for workers to be paid a living wage.
“We are very taken aback that things have gotten to this at a time when the tourism minister is boasting of record arrival numbers and record rates,” he said in a statement yesterday.
“The workers need to get their piece of the pie.
“I will be reaching out to both sides to see how we can help but we cannot support regression in terms of employment.
“We are very concerned that workers have a livable wage.”
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.