Woods: Union will avert strike vote if Atlantis keeps word

Woods: Union will avert strike vote if Atlantis keeps word
Atlantis Paradise Island. (PHOTO: ATLANTIS.COM)

Hotel union set to meet resort’s management today


NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) President Darrin Woods said yesterday that if Atlantis honours its decision to discontinue a new disciplinary regime for unionized employees and comes to the table to negotiate a new shift system for housekeepers, the bargaining unit will abandon its strike vote plans set for next Tuesday.

However, he said the union is prepared to “go to war” if the resort deviates from its expressed commitment.

The union filed trade disputes in late October in response to the new shift system for housekeepers and the 12-point disciplinary system, which it said unfairly penalized employees for minor infractions.

It initiated work to rule last month.

Executives from Atlantis and the union are set to meet this morning.

“If they discontinue the new program for the bargaining unit, and as they indicated, they suspend the implementation of the shift system for us to continue talks — initially they said they were going to move it, but we have to go an find 48 people [to work the shift] and I told them I can’t guarantee I can find 48 people because you have to get those housekeepers to agree,” Woods told Eyewitness News Online.

“If that all happens, we will not go through with our strike vote.”

In a letter addressed to the union on Sunday, Atlantis’ Vice President of Labour Relations Kenneth Lightbourne said the resort had discontinued its ‘Improved Attendance Process’ “as per your insistence as it relates to union colleagues employed by Atlantis”.

“Additionally, and again at your insistence, we intend to suspend implementation of the additional shifts for housekeeping at the Cove and Reef while we continue to consult and negotiate in good faith with you and the Department of Labour in order to arrive at a common understanding of what we are trying to accomplish,” the letter read.

“In the meantime, we will continue to make the additional shifts available to those that wish to volunteer for them.

“As we have now taken the above actions, it is our expectation that you will confirm that all disputes initiated will also be suspended.”

Woods said yesterday he hopes Atlantis’ use of the term ‘union colleagues’ is not intended to trap certain employees who are not union members under the IAP system.

“We take exception to that because we filed our dispute on the bargaining unit, and so if they are going to discontinue it, you have to discontinue it for the bargaining unit — the entire unit and not just the union colleagues.”

He continued, “What we see them trying to do is create two separate groups of employees with separate benefits. If you are going to follow the industrial agreement for the union or union colleagues you are going to [have to] follow it for the non-union colleagues also.

The BHCAWU has around 3,500 members at Atlantis.

According to Woods, several hundred more employees benefit from the union’s agreement.

He said the union hopes to resolve the matter and focus on a new industrial agreement.

“The bigger picture for us is to move this out of the way because we see this as a distraction,” he said.

“We want to be able to get down and send a proposal.

“We want to do that before the end of the year, so we can start negotiation for a new industrial agreement that can be registered.”