Minister to hotels and hotel union: Talk to one another
Speaking on what he referred to as “rumblings” in the hotel industry, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar last week called on the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) and the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association (BHEA) to act responsibly.
“Act responsibly, because our entire country is relying on both sides to get this right,” he said in his contribution to the 2019/2020 budget debate.
“I hear a lot of harsh words, but I am dismayed that there has been little or no negotiations.
“That is not good. Negotiations must be exhausted before we even start to talk about the nuclear options.”
BHCAWU members overwhelmingly voted to strike last Thursday amid assertions that, in negotiating a new industrial agreement, their employers proposed to reduce gratuity amounts from 15 percent to zero in some dining areas.
BHEA is representing the employers in the negotiations, which include Atlantis, the Reef, the Cove, Harborside Resort, Melia Nassau Beach, British Colonial Hilton, Lyford Cay Club, the Ocean Club and Towne Hotel.
General Secretary Sheila Burrows has said that the decision to hold the poll was in light of “grave issues” found with BHEA’s proposal.
In what the union said was an attempt to remove the 15 percent gratuity, the BHEA proposal left spaces for gratuity percentages blank. However, The Guardian understands that the amounts were left blank because the intention was to begin to discuss how to better distribute the gratuity.
Speaking on the matter last week, BHEA President Russell Miller said that the gratuity was never at stake, and that the union used it to “rile up fears” from its members. He also criticized the union’s taking six years to propose a new industrial agreement, and refuted claims by the union that BHEA had not shown a willingness to negotiate.
D’Aguilar called on the union and the association to negotiate in good faith.
“I implore both sides not to rush to judge or make any drastic moves…,” he said.
“Talk to one another.”