Hotel union to hold off on strike as talks resume

Union president hopes to complete negotiation within six months

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) President Darrin Woods yesterday stopped short of saying that hotel employees will not strike as the union continues to negotiate with the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association (BHEA) for a new industrial agreement.

Talks are expected to resume among stakeholders in mid-July.

“We have nine certificates you know, but I would say we are going to start [negotiations] in earnest and with all of the issues we are going to place all of them on the table — the contract issues that we are having with the various hotels — to try and get the all resolved one time, so when we move away from the table we don’t have anything to go back to, which would be inclusive of the separate issues we would have had,” Woods told Eyewitness News Online.

“So, we are going to go forward in good faith.”

BHCAWU members overwhelmingly voted to strike nearly two weeks ago.

The union has expressed grave concerns about the reduction of gratuity amounts from 15 percent to zero in certain dining areas.

The BHEA, which represents employers in the negotiations, has said that the gratuity was a non-issue.

These properties include, Atlantis, the Cove, the Reef, British Colonial Hilton, Harborside Resort, Lyford Cay Club, Melia Nassau Beach, the Towne Hotel and the Ocean Club.

BHEA President Russell Miller recently noted that it was not a part of the BHEA’s proposal and there were matters on the table submitted by both sides that were “open for discussion”.

It was pointed out that with a strike certificate in hand, the union has considerable leverage going into the next round of negotiations.

Yesterday, Woods said the union does not wish to engage in negotiations with a strike vote looming over the BHEA, but hopes that the association will also approach talks in good faith.

The union had previously suggested that the association was not prepared to negotiation.

“Let’s come and put all the cards on the table and see how we can get through it,” he said.

“If we have to, at the end of the day, we will do what we have to do to get a registered industrial agreement.”

He added that he hopes to wrap up negotiations within four to six months, and has no intention of allowing negotiations to prolong beyond that.

“I am not prepared to be sitting at the table for a year; not even six month to be honest,” Woods said.

“I am not prepared for that. Whatever we can’t get resolved, leave it as it is and let us move on because it has been long enough.”

The last union agreement expired in January 2013.According to Woods, the union’s proposal for a new agreement was submitted in December 2018.