Baha Mar firings signal ‘critical economic times’

Baha Mar firings signal ‘critical economic times’
Jeffery Beckles

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive Jeffrey Beckles said Baha Mar’s decision to cut hundreds of employees across its hotel properties was a statement of the “critical economic times” this nation is facing.

Baha Mar in a statement yesterday noted that in preparation to re-open in the fall,  it made “the difficult, but necessary decision to implement staffing reductions to adequately align with projected business levels”.

“Whenever people lose jobs it’s never a good thing. There is no right timing for it. This is a statement of the critical times economic times we live in. Whether we acknowledge it or not people think that businesses the size of Baha Mar are not affected by cost and expense limitations. They have to make business decisions,” said Beckles.

“It would be great to see the open up and running again but they have to determine whether from a business standpoint whether the time is right. Reopening right now is not as simple as turning the lights on, it’s almost a start-up cost.”

Beckles said: “What is happening at Baha Mar is no different than what is happening in the SME community. Many companies are unable to keep their door open.”

Baha Mar noted that since the resort’s temporary closure on March 25, it has ensured that all full-time associates receive 40 per cent of their base compensation, plus covering insurance premiums to maintain associates’ Health Insurance, Life and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (ADD) Insurance Coverage.

The statement continued: “On June 29th, 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.”

The resort also noted that for an additional 90 day it will continue to support all remaining associates by ensuring each receives 30 per cent of their base compensation and will also pay for the insurance premiums necessary to maintain associates’ Health Insurance, Life, and Accidental Death and Dismemberment (ADD) Insurance Coverage.

“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,” Baha Mar said.

“With the ongoing construction and expanded resort offerings starting to launch in fall 2020, Baha Mar continues working hard to create additional opportunities for the Bahamian job market.”

Meanwhile Atlantis has indicated that it will push it reopening back 23 days due to the “dramatic increase” in coronavirus cases in the United States.

The resort earlier this month had announced a phased opening beginning July 7 however the resort’s president Audrey Oswell in a letter to staff yesterday noted that the resort had pushed back its opening date as the virus has shifted from a steady decline to a recent surge in many of its key markets.

Yesterday, Beckles said: “We cannot realistically have a conversation about opening up without taking note of what’s going on in the United States. We can’t have this conversation in a vacuum. What’s going on in the US is affecting everything.”