Atlantis calls union action unjustified and unlawful

President and Managing Director of Atlantis Audrey Oswell said yesterday that the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union’s (BHCAWU) demonstration on Thursday was not justified or productive, but insisted that the resort will continue to negotiate in good faith.

“We were surprised that the union decided to pursue labor action on Thursday instead of meeting with us to make progress on the agreement,” Oswell said in a statement.

“The day of the labor activity, Russell Miller, chairman of the BHEA (Bahamas Hotel and Restaurant Employers’ Association), was scheduled to meet with Darren Woods (BHCAWU president), to sign off on 36 and 48 sections of the industrial agreement that have been mutually agreed upon by the Union and the BHEA.

“This labor action was particularly peculiar given that we waited more than six years for the union to present their proposal.

“In addition to being unlawful, we do not believe that the labor action was justified or productive for the resort or our colleagues and our shared goal of a signed agreement.”

Oswell stated that Atlantis is “committed to negotiating with the union for seven days a week” with a view to complete the agreement as soon as possible.

She said that the resort will continue to adhere to the previous agreement’s terms in the meantime.

“We want to move immediately on what matters most to our team members – increasing their paychecks – as we head into the holiday season,” she said.

The union’s last agreement expired in 2013. An overwhelming majority of BHCAWU members voted to strike earlier this year after continued difficulties in negotiating a new industrial agreement with their employers. On Thursday, union members picketed outside Atlantis in frustration over lengthy industrial agreement negotiations.

During that demonstration, Woods told reporters that he had been told negotiations could take up to 12 months but that he made the resorts aware that the union was not willing to negotiate past four months, noting that “this is month number four”.

Princess Jacklyn Adderley, a frustrated hotel worker, told reporters, “Everybody could come and say how the hotel has been booming and they making money, but we have yet to make anything.”

She added, “You cannot go to the bank to get a loan for a house because of your set salary. They don’t look at your gratuity, they look at your set salary – and that is only $196 a week.”

On Thursday, Justice Keith Thompson granted Island Hotel Company Limited, which operates Atlantis resort, an injunction against BHCAWU, banning union members who are Atlantis employees from picketing at the resort or “inducing, inciting or intimidating” other employees or guests until the inter parties hearing.

The injunction also bans the members from obstructing or impeding the entrance and exit to the resort.

If members fail to obey the order, they “will be liable to process of execution for the purpose of compelling you to obey the same”.

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