SkyBahamas employees file trade dispute over pay

Thirty-five of SkyBahamas’ 48 employees have a filed a trade dispute claiming they are “owed salary and other entitled benefits in accordance with Labour Act of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas”.

The trade dispute was filed on August 8 at the Department of Labour.

In an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday, several managers at the company said that they have not been paid since June 15, and voiced frustration over the lack of communication from the owners of the company.

“It is a fact that the employees have not been paid since pay period ending June 15, 2019 with absolutely zero communication from senior management or owners until Wednesday, August 7, 2019, which the staff viewed as just another of many indications to the fact that they are employed by a company that does not care about the well-being of their employees,” the employees said in a collective statement.

The statement added, “The one and only meeting since this fiasco at SkyBahamas began gave the staff no answers as to when or if they would be paid the money owed to them.”

SkyBahamas was grounded on July 8 due to its lack of an air operation certificate (AOC) following several meetings with the BCAA.

Butler has said that the airline has lost millions of dollars in fixed costs and expected revenue and has also taken a major hit to its reputation since its planes have been grounded.

SkyBahamas was evicted from its location at the airport over a week ago. The company was also evicted from its office location on August 17 by AOG Maintenance Company Ltd.

Butler has claimed that the matter appears to be political and personal.

However, the employees insisted that the company’s issues are self-inflicted.

Employees claimed the owners have repeatedly ignored contact from staff on the matter.

Several managers said that although they have not been terminated or let go by SkyBahamas, they have been placed on a leave of absence. They said they were told that they will be paid once the airline receives its air operation certificate (AOC).

“So, no definitive date as to when we would receive a paycheck or apology for the fact that we haven’t been paid,” one manager said.

According to the managers, employees at the company have filed for unemployment benefit.

One manager said that before the airline’s grounding, she had begun to have doubts about the company’s viability.

“One of the red flags for me was when they stopped our medical insurance,” she said.

According to the employees, the insurance was discontinued in May, because Sky Bahamas said it was no longer necessary with the availability of National Health Insurance. SkyBahamas had previously paid 40 percent of employees’ health insurance, but on May 3, an email from the human resources director, seen by The Guardian, advised employees that they would have to pay for the insurance in totality or have it canceled.

The employees said they are not sure what to do or how to move forward.

“There’s no certainty,” one manager said.

“We have nothing to go on, no communication. There’s nothing.”

Butler yesterday acknowledged that the staff had not been paid for weeks as a result of the company being closed down.

He said he expects the staff would be paid as soon as the company can start operating again.

It is unclear when that would happen.

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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