NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A well-known labor specialist has questioned calls for redundancy by some Atlantis workers citing that there are “no jobs to go to”, while noting that the reopening of the two major hotel properties on New Providence remains a big issue.
Peter Goudie, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s director responsible for union relations, told Eyewitness News: “The government has indicated that they are going to offer the unemployment assistance until the end of December.
“Thank God at least they are doing that much. They are talking about reopening tourism soon and hopefully, that will solve a lot of problems, but we don’t know what Atlantis and Baha Mar are going to do.
“That’s a big issue. The law doesn’t address any of this other than the emergency powers.”
Reforms to the Employment Act in 2017 mandate that once workers have been sent home for a 13-week period or 90-day period, an employer has to either to recall them to work or terminate them with full compensation as required by law.
“The government was prompted however by the large scale of temporary lay-offs to suspend the redundancy provisions in the Employment Act,” Goudie said.
A number of Atlantis employees have called for the resort to formally release them and pay them severance, having been furloughed since late March.
Dave Beckford, a former contender for the hotel union presidency, recently reiterated calls for redundancies at Atlantis as he questioned how long staff are to remain furloughed.
In a statement last week, Atlantis’ president and managing director Audrey Oswell acknowledged the calls for redundancies.
He said the resort has thoroughly reviewed and considered a scenario where certain roles are eliminated as management waits out the reopening of the resort.
Oswell said: “As we press forward with current and future challenges, including reopening the property and building back guest bookings in the midst of COVID-19, we have no certainty as to what business levels will be when we do reopen.
“Therefore it would be premature to separate you permanently from the company at this time.”
Goudie added: “Why would they want to be made redundant when there are no jobs to go to. I don’t understand that. I honestly just don’t get it.”