Former Our Lucaya workers receive payments
FN News Reporter
Just in time for Christmas and a long time overdue, some 14 former employers of Our Lucaya Resort received the balance of payments owed following a downsizing exercise at the hotel.
Dr. Thomas Bastian, labour consultant and member of the Trade Union Congress, along with Obie Ferguson were with the former employees yesterday when they received their funds.
Bastian said it was back in 2006 when the hotel decided to downsize, they terminated these persons through redundancy, but they were members of the Bahamas Catering Allied Workers Union and were not paid the full amount they were owed, and the group challenged the payment because of their positions as supervisors.
He said they had an industrial agreement at the time which expired in May 2006 and the agreement allowed that all industrial agreements registered prior to the termination date would be subject to the minimum standard of the employment act after the agreement.
Bastian explained they were entitled to four weeks severance pay for the period of notice, but they had only received 50 percent.
He said to challenge the matter, the group contacted him and he spoke to the union and had the members pay their owing dues. But the union had already settled the matter and there was nothing else for them.
So Bastian said he registered the complaint for the members at the Labour Department and they had two conciliation hearings. When they were near to a compromise, he said the hotel backed away and left the matter.
But he said, he and the group pursued the matter further and went to an Industrial Tribunal who ruled in favour of the employees.
He said the 14 have waited for six years for this matter to be settled, which, he said, shows how weak our system is.
"This matter should have been settled by the union who represent the workers," Bastian said.
"By this time they would have already received. Plus when we went to the Ministry of Labour, it should have been settled by the Ministry of Labour, because the law is very clear but because of the system again it was not told in that fashion and we had to end up before the tribunal which ruled in September 2012 that the workers were entitled to additional compensation.
"Mr. Ferguson represented them and we congratulate him and thank the workers for their patience in waiting and I know they felt they were never going to reach this end. And I am pleased to thank them for their patience and perseverance and endurance they put into this matter and allowing it to produce to this end."
Ferguson thanked Bastian for introducing the case and the employees to him adding that he was convinced once he heard the case that the employees were treated wrongfully.
"Unlike other Caribbean countries our laws are not worker friendly," he stated. "Our laws are adverse to workers. So you have to do sometimes what you would not want to do and that is to go to courts. As a lawyer I tend to discuss things first and if I see that you are not serious about resolving it then I would go some place else where I know when you make an order, you have to comply.
"So we decided to go to Tribunal and at the Tribunal they made the ruling that now today we are successful."
Ferguson said the important thing for Bahamians is to learn to do is what these persons were doing and that is to stick together.
This case was heard and decreed by Ernie Wallace, Vice President, Bahamas Industrial Tribunal requiring the employees to be paid since September of this year.
© 2012 The Freeport News