Members of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) yesterday picketed outside the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in frustration over lengthy industrial agreement negotiations.
“The employees have decided today that since the employers were able to do as they saw fit, it’s now time for them to do as they see fit,” BHCAWU President Darrin Woods said outside the hotel.
“…We are not getting up from any table without having an agreement that is able to be registered.
“We said to them that we are going to do whatever is necessary to protect the rights of our members.
“Our members have been agitating now for weeks that they are tired and this is just the first step in our quest to go to full-fledged industrial action on the industry. This is step number one.”
When contacted yesterday, Atlantis Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Ed Fields said the union’s rationale is unclear as negotiations have been going well.
He said the picketing has not affected operations at the resort.
“Quite Frankly, we do not know what this is about,” Fields said.
“We would suggest you ask the union leadership what this is about.
“Mr. Russell Miller, chairman of the Bahamas Hotel Employers Union, was due to meet the union today at Hotels House to sign off on 36 of the 48 sections of the new agreement that were mutually agreed upon.
“The negotiations have not been contentious, and we do not know where this is coming from. It is safe to say that over 95 percent of our associates reported to work and operations are proceeding without interruption [in] services to our guests.”
However, Woods said the resorts knew what was coming.
“No one can say this has caught them by surprise because when we sat down in July, I said to the association; I said to the minister; I said to the prime minister and all who would listen,” he said.
“They indicated that the negotiations could take as much as 12 months.
“We said we are not prepared to do that. We are not negotiating more than four months.
“Well, this is month number four. So, we are prepared to do whatever, however long it takes, to be able to bring resolutions to the plight of these people, because the industry cannot say that they have not benefited on the backs of these people you see standing here today.”
Earlier this month, Minister of Tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar urged the hotel union to let cooler heads prevail for the sake of the tourism industry.
While the union has had issues since earlier in the year, he stressed that the industry is especially vulnerable in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
An overwhelming majority of BHCAWU members voted to strike after continued difficulties in negotiating a new industrial agreement with their employers.
The members who took part in the vote were employees of Atlantis, the Reef, the Cove, Harborside Resort, Melia Nassau Beach, the British Colonial Hilton, Lyford Cay Club, the Ocean Club and Towne Hotel.