That’s how a top official of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) yesterday described the planned withdrawal of the luxurious Sandy Lane Resort from the umbrella Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA).
The union has also taken issue with the hotel’s refusal to accede to an eight per cent pay increase, which has already been agreed by all other BHTA members for implementation over the next three years.
Speaking ahead of two scheduled meetings today with Sandy Lane employees at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters, BWU Deputy General Secretary Dwaine Paul also complained that this was not the first time that Sandy Lane had acted in breach of a BHTA pay agreement, pointing out that last year the hotel had also rejected proposals for a three per cent wage hike for its hotel staff.
“It is an unfortunate situation. The matter of the salary increases with Sandy Lane goes back to the last negotiations when we would have had an agreement for a three per cent increase,” he said, explaining that Sandy Lane, as a member of the BHTA, has now “defaulted” on two successive pay accords.
Paul said the action by Sandy Lane management had resulted in some workers at the upscale hotel falling below the minimum standard of pay set for hotel employees.
“The default on the first increase has now been carried forward into the second round of negotiations where Sandy Lane, being a member of the BHTA at the time, has now also not agreed to pay a second round of increases,” Paul explained.
The Deputy BWU General Secretary went on to reveal that having failed to give all of its workers the agreed pay rises, Sandy Lane chose to pay some categories of jobs above what was the going rate as their way of attracting a specific quality of worker.
“That is the right of any hotel within the BHTA or outside of the BHTA, or in any agreement with the BWU. We negotiate with the BHTA the minimum pay so it is up to the property based on their marketing position, based on their business strategy, to pay above what is the minimum.
“That was their right. Nobody said to them they could not do it and we cannot say to them they cannot do it. They paid for some categories of workers, not all, and that is for us in the union, a minority of staff,” Paul emphasized.
The two sides are due to meet at the request of the hotel’s management.
However, Paul, who was due to meet with two groups of Sandy Lane workers today to discuss the situation, declined to disclose the details of the pending meeting.
Meantime, the Chairman of the BHTA Sunil Chatrani, has confirmed that a formal letter of withdrawal was submitted by Sandy Lane to the umbrella hotel group about two weeks ago.
Chatrani has also confirmed that the luxury hotel had not honoured two recent pay agreements.
Consequently, Sandy Lane is now seeking to go it alone by withdrawing from the BHTA and the collective bargaining agreement.
“It is an unfortunate situation that this has happened. I do not think that it is so much that the current negotiations have caused them to withdraw. It was unfortunate that their dissatisfaction was not clarified before the current negotiations. I think that the Sandy Lane situation is a unique one,” Chatrani said.
The BHTA chairman however gave the assurance that no other member of the association had indicated that they were about to part ways with the umbrella organization, adding that he hoped Sandy Lane would return to the organization and life would move on.
Meanwhile, Sandy Lane’s Public Relations Officer Risha Daniel has promised that the management of the hotel would issue a statement later this week. email@example.com