After a year of negotiations between the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) and the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), hotel workers here are to receive a pay rise.
Chief Executive Officer of the BHTA Sue Springer announced at the association’s fourth quarterly general meeting today that the two sides had agreed an eight per cent increase in wages for the employees.
She said the three-year deal, agreed last week, was retroactive to December 15, 2014.
“For the past year the BWU and the BHTA have been in negotiations to renew the collective agreement for hotel workers, which expired on December 14, 2014.
“We are delighted to announce that, after a number of meetings with the Chief Labour Officer and the BWU, wages settlement has been achieved for a three-year period commencing December 15, 2014. The agreement is a total of eight per cent increase in wages, with an increase in the first year of 2.5 per cent, the second year three per cent, and the third year 2.5 per cent. This is compounded each year,” Springer said.
Springer said discussions were scheduled to continue this evening to reach an agreement on how the retroactive pay would be distributed, with payment to be made as soon as this matter was resolved.
Prior to the previous collective agreement that expired on December 2014, hotel operators had rejected the notion of a pay rise, pointing to low occupancy, the global recession, the introduction of the air passenger duty (APD) by the United Kingdom and severe weather conditions in the United States.
Springer said her association was thankful that both the union and hotel workers had been patient and supportive over the past six years while the sector struggled to overcome a downturn in visitor arrivals.
She said the two sides agreed a moratorium for four out of the six years, with a pay increase of three per cent given in 2010/2011.
“[The support shows] what can be achieved by dialogue, understanding and respect for all concerned together with an understanding that no one can win by selfishness and destroying the other side,” the hotel industry executive said.
Springer said she hoped that now that the settlement was achieved “we can look forward to a productive and successful tourism season for all concerned”.
In the meantime, hoteliers will seek to get more products added to the list of items that they can to access duty-free under the recently amended Tourism Development Act (TDA).
To date qualifying hotels are able to access alcohol only under the TDA. However, they are hoping that as of this week proteins will be added to the list, while a meeting is being planned for early next year to try to persuade the authorities to add even more items.
“In January the BHTA will meet with Stuart Layne, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc to discuss and introduce the next phase of food items to be added to the duty-free list,” said Springer.
“This is a priority as currently the hotels have not been able to access the other food and consumable items as stated in the [Act],” she told today’s gathering at the Lloyd Erskine
She explained that when Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy announced the amendments to the TDA one of the requirements for the hotels to obtain the concessions was for hoteliers to upgrade their product.
That, said Springer, was “adhered to” by “numerous hotels”, adding that as business improved she hoped more properties would be in a position to upgrade their facilities.