By Jenique Belgrave
Housekeepers, housemen and laundry attendants have identified compensation issues, lack of uniforms and personal protective equipment and a general feeling of being disrespected as some of the major problems they face working in the tourism sector.
These workers from hotels, villas and guest houses across the island shared these issues with Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) General Secretary Toni Moore and her deputy Dwaine Paul during a meeting at the union’s Solidarity House headquarters on Wednesday night.
Communications Specialist Cheyne Jones told Barbados TODAY that feedback as well as the views of others within the accommodation sector will form the basis of the BWU’s upcoming talks with the Barbados Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA).
“With a series of focused discussions lined up in the coming weeks, we aim to gather comprehensive insights into the concerns and aspirations of our valued members. These insights will be pivotal as we enter into dialogue with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. Our objective remains clear – to ensure that our members are recognised, celebrated and supported in the best way possible,” he said.
“We are not just hopeful but truly excited about the future prospects these dialogues can bring. We eagerly anticipate productive discussions with the BHTA and are optimistic about ushering in a brighter, more equitable era for our members in the hotel sector.”
Jones noted that with the approaching 2023/2024 winter tourism season, the union had decided to convene several meetings with employees in the industry.
“The union recognises the significant contribution these diligent workers make, ensuring that our vibrant tourism sector remains the heartbeat of the Barbadian economy,” he said.
Expressing satisfaction with the turnout, Jones commended the participants for responding to the union’s invitation to share their views, saying that “their energy and spirit are indications of the bright future we anticipate for the sector”.
“The energy and unity demonstrated (Wednesday) night are testament to the resilience and spirit of our hotel sector workers. We are poised and ready to channel this momentum into tangible progress for all,” he added, pledging the BWU’s support for this group.
As she defended the sector’s employers against “irresponsible attacks”, BHTA chairman Renee Coppin urged members of the association to make sure they were doing right by their workers.
“There must be the highest level of compliance, not only to the letter of the law but to the call of our conscience. The moral responsibility to our people must remain at the centre of what we do and how we do it.
“This is a magnificent industry. One that is globally and locally providing opportunities for prosperity for Barbados and for Barbadians. However, we in the BTHA cannot defend the indefensible. And so we will never cease to hold you, our members, accountable to the most rigorous standards regarding the conduct of your businesses,” she said at the BHTA’s third quarterly general meeting last week.