The nation’s vital hotel industry has been placed on notice of possible industrial action.
After talking tonight with workers – the second of two meetings with them today – at the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Solidarity House Headquarters – a tough-talking deputy general secretary Dwaine Paul was adamant that its members in the industry should be at the ready.
The union, which represents more than half of the nation’s hotel workers, was “tired” that too many hoteliers – in an industry that employs more than 5,000 workers – continue to mete out “unfair and disrespectful” treatment to its workers, said Paul.
He said tonight’s meeting, which was called to respond to the issue of wage proposals placed on the negotiating table by the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), also brought to light a series of other concerns which the union official said they thought had been resolved.
The BWU deputy general secretary said once the wages negotiations are settled, hopefully soon, the union will then tackle other concerns, which he declined to specify.
“I am signalling so everybody gets to understand when we come back and we have to identify properties and we have to identify issues that nobody can say we did not say up front that we need to have these matters resolved. A lot of the offensive properties know who they are. We are tired. So, we are signalling that that is the next phase for us. So, we are basically sending the rallying call to all hotel members, to ready themselves to make sure that they bring change to their profession,” an animated Paul declared.
He also sent a strong warning to hotel owners and operators that it would not be business as usual when the union comes to engage them on its concerns.
“It is a number of issues we thought were previously addressed and we do have some hotels, not all . . . let me make that clear . . . but there are too many hotels who are still not treating to their workers in a fair and respectful manner and this union is signalling to all hotels across Barbados, that the workforce that makes up the hotel sector in Barbados has had enough,” Paul warned.
And therefore, he added, the BWU will be forming its collective responses to these issues because things have to change.
“And we are going to be insisting that it changes,” the senior union official told Barbados TODAY.
Paul said the BWU expects to go into the coming Winter season, fully focused on dealing with the reemerged problems confronting its members.
In seeking to strengthen the union’s stance, he contended that hotel workers deliver excellent service to visitors sometimes in “very” challenging conditions.
“And we need, as I said, to fix this. It can’t be always that we provide for our guests, but we are not providing for our employees. We need to balance this out. If you want superior service and treatment and standards for your guests, then you should give nothing less to the staff members who have to deliver that to your guests,” he argued.
“So we need to deal with this imbalance to this growing number of issues that are creeping up in our hotel sector. So, I am signalling to hotel workers that they need to unite and to let us address these issues out front, and make sure that they not only ask, but demand a fair and better treatment . . . and this union will be standing up and standing firmly for hotel workers,” Paul insisted.
When asked for the union’s stance on the ongoing layoffs in the public service, he told Barbados TODAY he did not want to steal General Secretary Toni Moore’s thunder on this matter.
He said she would shortly come to the public and outline the union’s response to the Government’s job cuts programme aimed at modernizing, streamlining and creating a more efficient public sector.
Government started sending home its targeted 1,500 workers since last week with a goal of completing the process by month-end.
The exercise, which is part of the Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation (BERT) plan supported by a $600 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is designed to substantially cut Government’s massive spending and help reach a primary surplus target of six per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the fiscal year 2019-2020.