by Marlon Madden
The Club Barbados Resort on Friday backpaddled on its earlier position and began the process of paying outstanding severance to its disgruntled former employees.
This action capped off a weeklong protest in which the laid off workers became vocal and critical of the management’s decision not to pay them the outstanding monies but to refer them to the state’s National Insurance Scheme (NIS) to cover the costs.
The payment process began on Friday ending the persistent agitation of employees who charged their former employer of going back on an earlier deal to pay their severance in two tranches – October and November.
Today, dozens of workers streamed onto the premises of the Holetown, St James property to collect their severance payment, with mixed feelings about the ordeal.
Those whose surnames begin with letters A through M, collected their final cheques after a frustrating week of protests and a promise by Government to pay their severance.
The protests followed management’s position that it would not be able to fulfil the remaining 75 per cent final payment and would instead rely on the NIS to step in.
However, after a high-level press conference last Saturday that included Prime Minister Mia Mottley, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BUW) Toni Moore, Chairman of the NIS Leslie Haynes and Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association Senator Rudy Grant, the hotel said it had secured financing to make the outstanding payments.
During the press conference, authorities denied there was any promise that the NIS would meet the 75 per cent payment, but said the scheme was prepared to step in and then make every effort to recover the monies from the employer.
Dewey King told Barbados TODAY that although he was now happy to have received what was promised to him, the entire episode left a bitter taste in his mouth about hoteliers.
“It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth as a loyal employee at that, to actually got to come back, after the COVID-19 pandemic is rectified, to the tourism sector wherein we had just been unfaired,” he said.
“It is an uneasy feeling. I don’t think I would actually be going back into the tourism sector. I think I will be looking to go find some other field and apply my skills because I feel wronged. Although it is being rectified I still feel a bit wronged in that circumstance. So I will be looking to head into a different area,” said the now unemployed man, who got his severance payment today.
He said he received his full, expected amount and felt “good” about that.
King said the majority of his severance would be going towards funeral expenses for his father, and the remainder will be used to pay some bills and go towards helping the family have an enjoyable Christmas season.
“So it is just an ease. Come next year I will still have to be out there looking for work,” he said.
Oakley Jordan told Barbados TODAY she attributed the change of heart of the hotel management to last weekend’s intervention by the Prime Minister and other officials.
“It is a good feeling. Through all the negative things, today we feel a lot better than weeks ago and we have to thank
our Prime Minister Ms Mottley, the Barbados Workers’ Union,” she said.
Jordan, who was laid off since March 24, said she was currently in a good position working “off and on”, but said she would still like to find a full-time job soon.
She acknowledged that she was not one in favour of severance, adding that she was more interested in keeping her job even if it meant some tweaks.
“Actually, I didn’t want severance because I was really interested in my job. I love my job. But seeing that the severance is paid now we have to go forward from here,” she said.
One lady said she was not sure everyone was pleased since some people would have preferred to continue to work at the hotel even on a reduced salary.
Another worker said the amount being paid by the company worked out to be “different” from what it would have been if they had got the payment from the NIS.
“They were tricking you from the early because they know what they were doing. I don’t even know if they short me . . . but I am still happy. I got my money,” he said.
Pointing to the difficulty in finding new employment at this time, the man said he was now thinking about starting a business.
Another former employee who did not want to be identified simply said “The issues are now resolved and I guess everybody is happy and comfortable. At least it went peacefully.”
Thanking all those responsible for making the severance payment a reality, he said he was now focused on finding new employment.
Former workers whose last names begin with the letters N through Z, are expected to collect their severance payment on December 2.
In late September, management of The Club Barbados Resort and Spa informed employees that it would be making their positions redundant as the hotel buckled under the pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic.