Ferguson confident govt. will honor payouts to Lucayan managers

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson said while the voluntary separation packages (VSEP) for the managers at the Grand Lucayan Resort in Grand Bahama have not been finalized, he remains confident the government will honour its commitment to those who applied for payouts.

Ferguson, the lead negotiator for the Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association (BHMA) told Eyewitness News Online there were still some technical matters to be addressed related to managers.

One of the points of contention was the severance pay for the year of service for each employee, Ferguson noted.

“We have every confidence [that] employees will be paid, and the government will honour the commitment made,” Ferguson said.

According to the union president, the value of the VSEPs for the 90 managers at the resort was approximately $4.2 million, but the resort’s board had refused to budge over $3.2 million.

Ferguson spoke as line staff employees at the resort began to receive payouts.

In a statement on Wednesday, Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers Union President Michelle Dorsette thanked the government for ensuring employees were given what they were entitled to.

“It has been a long and hard-fought battle, but we are grateful that the government intervened and acted in the best interest of the workers,” she said.

“The packages include severance, gratuity and back pay.”

According to Dorsett, all 164 line-staff workers who applied for VSEPs were approved.

“A number of employees have contacted me to express their gratitude for helping to bring the matter to a close.”

Additionally, Dorsett noted that “casual workers” in the banquets department who were employees for six to 12 years were included in the VSEP offers “despite the fact that these workers were not permanent”.

“The Commonwealth union says thank you to all those workers who would have served the island’s anchor property in various positions over the years and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours,” Dorsette said.

“I also want to encourage those employees who have decided to stay on at the Grand Lucayan to remain committed and stay focused as I am optimistic that the hotel will soon rebound.

“I truly believe that there are brighter days ahead for the Grand Lucayan and for the island of Grand Bahama as a whole.”

The government purchased the Grand Lucayan resort for $65 million, with $30 million paid up front.

The VSEP exercise is expected to streamline cost.

According to the government’s fiscal performance report for the first six months of 2018/2019, the Minnis administration has spent a total of $13 million to keep the Grand Lucayan resort in Grand Bahama operating.