Govt. transitions to takeover hotel: Employees hoping for separation packages

The Grand Lucayan hotel.

Almost half of the 400 employees at the Our Lucaya Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama have opted to part ways with the hotel as government finalizes its purchase of from the Hutchinson Group Limited.

President of the Commonwealth Union of Hotel Services and Allied Workers Union (CUHSAWU), Michelle Dorsett in an interview with Eyewitness News last evening said nearly 200 employees have decided to not to stay as this transaction is made.

“We had a meeting on August 15, updating them and they had two options, to leave or stay,” Dorsett said.

“Those who want to stay will receive their back pay and gratuities and those who want to leave what also get what is owed along with their severance.”

Dorsett denied that those opting to leave had little confidence in the government’s ability to run a successful hotel operation.

“Some of them have been with the resort for 21,19 or 16 years the law requires 12 years so they have their own destination and plans and some of them really want to move on,” she explained.

Those who plan to continue with government she said are confident that government’s plan will work.

“We know this is only temporary and that government really did not want to have their hands in it but it had to be done to allow economic movement to happen,” she said.

Yesterday, Director of Hutchinson Lucayan Limited, P.C. Koh, now former owners of the Our Lucaya Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama wrote to employees informing them of the sale. The letter stated that effective yesterday, September 11 the hotel has been sold to Lucayan Renewal Holdings Ltd, owned by the government of The Bahamas.

In the letter dated September 10, the employees were informed that the sale does not affect the terms and agreement of the contract of employment as the government has agreed to continue the employment of all staff.

Dorsett said the letter came as no surprise to employees as they knew beforehand what was taking place.

“We knew what government was doing so the letter only confirmed what was taking place,” Dorsett said.

This revelation comes weeks after Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis toured the facility with other Cabinet Ministers and also announced that a $10million deposit was paid to begin the sale.

At the time however Dr. Minnis also indicated that the process will be finalized within 30 days and that he would give a full account of the process when Parliament resumes on September 19.

From all accounts, the 30 days have not expired.

When asked about the sale yesterday, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said while he did not see the letter whatever move is taking place, jobs are not in jeopardy.

“Unless that letter tells them to get out of the property and they are no longer employed, the situation remains,” Newbold said.

“There is no concern for those employees at the moment.”

The $65 million sale of the resort is said to be the last resort for the government after negations to sell the property fell through. While the prime minister has said the move is only temporary various sectors fear that government is making a mistake in proceeding with the purchase.

Last week Opposition Leader Phillip Davis called on the government to outline and explain to the Bahamian people their strategy for the sale and successful operation of the resort.

“What is the status of the business plan,” Davis asked.

“Who is the financier and that are the terms of the loan?”

Davis also questioned why the government refuses to simply put the proposed buyer and seller of the resort together as it is a private commercial transaction.

To date, no details regarding these concerns have been forthcoming by government officials.