Woods: Hotel union left in the dark

As Atlantis announced plans to begin a phased reopening by the end of the year, Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) President Darrin Woods said yesterday that the union was left in the dark about plans for the resort and broader plans for the ramping up of the tourism industry.

“We were unable up to this point to be able to speak to anyone in government to really hear from the workers’ side of this whole COVID pandemic,” he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian.

“We know they have been talking to the employers, but they have yet to sit with the union so we could get a full understanding as to what the whole gambit of the emergency orders and the lockdowns and the effect it’s having on the workers. And so, we hope that this will be a thing of the past and we kind of find a way to reopen and coexist.

“Some of our colleagues in the Caribbean, they are much further ahead than we are. You have some that have started to reopen and some that are open. And the only thing they are dealing with is curfews. And persons are pretty much going back to work.”

Woods added, “The workers’ representatives were not facilitated, contacted or a part of any discussion to come up with any plans that you see that are afoot now.

“We are still trying to find out what’s going on, what the plans are. We only hear what is put out in the media, whether it is from the government or anyone else.”

Atlantis temporarily laid off staff on March 21, for what was initially planned to be a period of four weeks, and assured employees of its commitment to support them during the period of uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the resort’s closure dragged on, with a planned opening in July quickly postponed as the situation in key markets, and locally, continued to deteriorate.

In a letter to employees on Tuesday, however, Atlantis said it expects to welcome its first guests before the end of 2020, in the first phase of several for the reopening.

“Atlantis will reopen in several planned phases,” it said.

The letter continued: “Unfortunately, we cannot welcome everyone back for phase 1. In the coming weeks, we will share details on how we will support those colleagues in the interim period and the milestones Atlantis needs to achieve to bring you back.”

The letter came days ahead of the government’s planned November 1 ramping up of the tourism industry, which will see visitors and residents allowed to enter The Bahamas without having to quarantine upon arrival. Instead, they will be required to have a negative RT-PCR test within a week of travel, and then take rapid antigen tests upon arrival and four days later.

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Rachel Scott

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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