HALTED | Bahamasair reservations department shutdown put on hold

Jewel Fountain president of the Airport Airline Allied Workers Union (AAAWU).

Management at the national flag carrier has been forced to put a hold on its decision to close down the company’s reservations department, following an apparent industrial agreement breach.

The initial decision to close the reservations department was announced earlier this week, which the airline said was all in an effort to cut expenses, however, despite management’s intent to save the company money, the bargaining unit for the employees argued that the closure is illegal.

“They’re going to have to take a few steps back and begin involving the union,” asserted Jewel Fountain, president of the Airport Airline Allied Workers Union (AAAWU).

“After they meet with us and we begin charting a way forward, we are then going to have meetings with our members and the best possible solution will be had.”

Fountain revealed that the union has put a stop to management’s decision based on the airline company’s current industrial agreement with employees.

“The union is supposed to be informed and be a part of the process. Any redeployment that happens, the union is supposed to be involved,” she noted.

“As president of the union, I had no idea that this was happening.”

With 50 per cent of Bahamasair’s reservations booked online, a minimal 20 per cent is done through the airline’s reservations department.

These statistics are apparently what led the airline’s executives to move forward with closing down its reservations department.

The reservation process would have then been shifted to an online platform and call center.

In an effort to mitigate job loss, all of the affected employees were to be redeployed within the company to other departments.

There are nine employees in New Providence and three employees in Grand Bahama who are currently employed in the reservations department.

“There are some persons who wish to maintain their jobs within the reservations department. We will make some recommendations to the board because we do have the expertise among our own members, to get this job done,” she maintained.

“So, the union intends to get together to make some proposals.

“Union members were distraught because they are not commodities, they are human beings who need to plan for their lives, and whatever happens, we need to be a part of that decision-making process.

“Had we been involved in the decision-making process since the beginning, we would not be at this point today.”

Currently hanging in limbo is the regional company, Itel BPO, which was slated to replace the airline’s local reservations department.

Based in Jamaica, the company is currently contracted by the Ministry of Tourism.

Information on the company’s website indicates that it provides a range of services which include, “smart solutions for tomorrow’s business needs”.