Hundreds of Baha Mar workers laid off

Hundreds of Baha Mar employees joined the unemployment line yesterday after they were informed via telephone that their positions at the resort were made redundant.

While a statement sent out by Baha Mar yesterday did not give a figure of how many employees were let go, previous reporting by The Nassau Guardian indicated the resort’s plans to make 20 percent of its 6,000 member staff redundant, which represents 1,200 employees.

In its statement, Baha Mar said, “On June 29, as the 90-day period ended, it was necessary for us to take the incredibly difficult step of reducing our staff across Grand Hyatt, SLS, Rosewood, Melia, casino and Baha Mar’s shared services.

“We are in the process of communicating directly with each of the associates affected by this decision and we are here to help guide all impacted through the next steps. All affected associates will receive severance pay in accordance with the law.”

Outside the property yesterday looked as it did over the past few weeks, with little to no activity.

There were no lines of employees seeking to pick up their severance packages, only construction crews and security personnel guarding entrances.

Baha Mar said in preparation to reopen in the fall, it had to make the difficult, but necessary decision to implement staffing reductions to adequately align with projected business levels.

The statement went on to detail Baha Mar’s plans for present employees and those made redundant, saying, “All affected associates are eligible for rehire and we look forward to bringing back as many associates as possible once business returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.

“For an additional 90 days, Baha Mar will continue to support all remaining associates by ensuring each receives 30 percent of their base compensation and will also pay for the insurance premiums necessary to maintain associates’ health insurance, life and accidental death and dismemberment insurance coverage.”

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar expressed disappointment in the news, saying, “It is very unfortunate that Baha Mar has decided to make redundant the employees that they have.”

He said with airlines and hotels taking a hit globally, this kind of activity is expected to hit not just The Bahamas, but the rest of the Caribbean.

“So that is going to cause unemployment and job losses in the tourism sector to become a little more permanent, which is really unfortunate,” D’Aguilar said.

“But there’s nothing we can do until the world gets on top of dealing with this coronavirus.”

Employees who spoke with The Guardian said they had received a call from the resort informing them that their position was made redundant and that correspondence regarding their severance pay and their next steps will come via email.

While he said he understands their plight, the tourism minister said he also understands why the resort may have informed employees the way it did.

“I presume that they (Baha Mar) felt that with the social distancing requirements in place, they felt that this was probably the best way to do it, to personally call every employee and speak to them to let them know,” D’Aguilar said.

“I think it’s a very personalized touch. I don’t know the details of the phone call or how they presented their desire to downsize, but I can understand how it’s very, very troubling for employees.”

Baha Mar President Graeme Davis has indicated the resort’s goal to reopen in October.

On Monday, June 22, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis pointed out that Baha Mar has advised, notwithstanding its revised projected opening date, that it will immediately recommence construction and utilize the time of closure to continue the $300 million expansion to its resort offerings.

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