by Kareem Smith
Management of The Club Barbados Resort and Spa appears to be standing by their decision to deliver just 25 per cent of the thousands in severance owed to approximately dozens of axed employees who were expecting their monies in a matter of days.
In fact, Senior Vice President of the West Coast property Mark Grebby described the hotel’s decision to come up with vacation and “notice period pay” along with the 25 per cent of severance as “a good start” in light of the current economic climate.
In a letter to Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Deputy General Secretary Dwaine Paul, management offered no definitive word on when the severed workers would receive the remaining 75 per cent, but promised that it would “soon” be paid by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
“As you know, we had hoped to pay all employees the balance of their severance by now. Sadly, the pandemic has dragged on and no tourism revenue has come in,” said Mr Grebby.
Describing Barbados as a “strong and substantial” nation, the hotel executive confirmed that The Club Barbados would be seeking assistance from the government’s social security agency.
“We are pleased to confirm that in accordance with the National Insurance Act and related laws and regulations, the NIS has agreed to fund these severance payments to the ex-employees.
“As business returns to the island then we will be able to fully repay the NIS in accordance with the repayment terms we have agreed with them,” the hotel vice president promised.
The BWU’s Deputy General Secretary confirmed the legitimacy of the letter, but offered no further comment on the developments or about whether the ministries of labour, tourism, or the Prime Minister’s office had responded to their request for dialogue.
The upbeat tone of the hotel’s letter differed significantly from the tone of some of the approximately 150 ex-workers who were looking forward to their outstanding monies before Christmas, they say was promised by the hotel.
Workers were initially told that the monies would be paid in two equal installments. They were therefore shocked to receive only 25 per cent of their severance minus outstanding loans and to be told that the remaining monies that were supposed to be given on November 21st would no longer be given.
Instead of coming to the hotel to collect NIS forms for severance, approximately 60 angry workers protested the hotel’s broken promise that some claim, could leave them sleeping on the streets.
Nevertheless, Mark Grebby thanked NIS officials for their assistance and urged workers to cooperate so their severance payments could be expedited.
“Again, our goal – like yours – is to ensure our employees receive their severance payments as quickly as possible. Those that did not attend now need to make applications to the NIS directly to expedite their payments,” she stressed.
“We sincerely look forward to having all former Club Barbados employees being fully paid and taken care of; and we also look forward to re-opening The Club Barbados as soon as it is safe and feasible to do so. With all the positive vaccine news this week, the light at the tunnel is getting brighter every day,” the hotel exec added.
So far, there has no response from Tourism Minister Senator Lisa Cummins on the plight of Club Barbados.
At a press conference on Wednesday to provide an update on developments at Harrison’s Cave, she made it clear that she would only speak on matters related to the cave.
Efforts to reach Minister of Labour Colin Jordan who along with Cummins has been asked to meet with labour leaders were unsuccessful.
Today, Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Senator Rudy Grant however promised to meet with the BWU sometime next week to discuss a range of issues affecting tourism workers including NIS and severance payments.