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The Freeport News
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Union gets okay to strike
Publication The Freeport News
Date December 09, 2002
Section(s) National News


Senior Freeport News Reporter

Members of a local union have given the 'go ahead' for a strike against a local resort following a strike vote on Friday.

One hundred and three of the 119 members of The Bahamas Gaming and Allied Workers Union showed up at Workers House on Friday to cast their ballots in a strike vote against the resort.

Union president Dennis Britton, during a press conference on Thursday, announced that the members will participate in the vote since they had already filed several disputes against their employer, The Royal Oasis, and gotten no response from management or the respective Government authorities.

"We hope that it (the results of the vote) would cause the Minister of Labour to look into our situation more closely," Britton told The Freeport News after the election on Friday, "and to cause the negotiation process between us and the hotel to start again, and that management at the Royal Oasis would not infringe on our benefits any more and just give us what is due us."

During the press conference, Britton charged that negotiations between the union and management of the Royal Oasis had stalled, but Senior Vice- President of the resort, Donald Archer, said negotiations were ongoing but he would not want to discuss the matter in the press.

Britton, on Friday, said he has not communicated with management since he and the other members called their last press conference on Thursday of last week and remains uncertain as to what is going to happen for Christmas.

He earlier charged that the resort is only giving the Christmas bonus to members of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, and instead, is offering them a four per cent pay increase which does not amount to the bonus.

Archer explained that the Christmas bonus is being extended to the Hotel Union members because of an agreement between management and that particular union but that management had not yet decided what will be done for Christmas.

The union president also told This Daily on Friday that morale is at an all time low among union members and he described it as non existent on the job.

Britton said he was satisfied with the amount of union members who turned out to participate in the elections.

"The turnout was excellent," he commented. "That (the turnout) shows that what we've been saying is true and that everyone is upset with the way things are going at work with us not being able to get any information from work about the situation of the hotel."

With regard to the situation at the hotel, Britton again explained that the resort is not updating the union with regard to the operational situation at the hotel.

"Everything is just rumours," he added. "We want concrete information or some type of communication. We used to have it and then it just stopped all of a sudden."

Britton is calling for management to resume negotiations, afford the union members all of the previous benefits, including Christmas bonus and laundry assistance and is calling on the Minister of Labour and Immigration, Vincent Peet to look into the matter.


© 2002 The Freeport News
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[an error occurred while processing this directive]Wednesday, 24-Apr-2019 22:15:03 EDT

Local/National News

Closed Royal Oasis casino, reopens


Senior Freeport News Reporter

Royal Oasis Casino employees will learn this afternoon the outcome of talks between union executives, gaming board and Government officials set to get under way this morning.

This after the casino was reportedly closed by management for the better part of the day yesterday and casino employees reporting for morning duty were denied access to the premises.

A notice of the closure was also posted on the door of the casino.

The move is believed to be as a result of action reportedly taken by casino workers Saturday night.

However, The Freeport News was unable to confirm this up to press time.

Workers reporting as scheduled assembled outside the gate. Word of the unrest spread and, after visiting the site to get to the bottom of the situation, Marco City MP Pleasant Bridgewater also spoke with Royal Oasis Senior Vice-president Donald Archer.

She them met with casino employees.

"The company instituted a closure, as they called it, of the hotel," said The Bahamas Gaming and Allied Workers Union (BGAWU) President Dennis Britton, in an interview with The Freeport News.

Britton said he was informed Sunday morning by coworkers who telephoned him to say they were not being allowed on property.

A majority of the workers showed up for work, he added, only to learn they were locked out.

A meet was scheduled that afternoon between resort management and union executives.

"We met and tried to bring resolve to the situation that was at hand why they locked us out and why they closed the casino down, " Britton said.

Britton noted that they would have met in any event, however, they decided to do so at an earlier time as they were already on the premises.

The meeting took place with senior management, including Archer and two others and Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Ann Percentie.

Pending issues were discussed Britton disclosed.

An agreement was reached to open the casino and it is business as usual, he said.

However, the BGAWU president declined to make any further comments on the matter as he had to conduct a "further investigation."

Resort management, BGAWU executives, Gaming Board Chairman MP Kenyatta Gibson and Government officials are expected to take part in this morning's meeting.

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The Nassau Guardian

© 2002 The Freeport News 


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[an error occurred while processing this directive]Wednesday, 24-Apr-2019 22:15:03 EDT

Local/National News

BGAWU claims Resort operations are 'perilous'


Senior Freeport News Reporter

A union is calling a local resort's operations "perilous" and its attitude "lackadaisical", as they again claim that management is stalling negotiations.

Members of The Bahamas Gaming and Allied Workers Union called a press conference at Workers House yesterday morning regarding its negotiations with management at the Royal Oasis Casino, reporting that negotiations between the two have stalled as management continues to use "stalling tactics".

President of the union, Dennis Britton, after recalling the December 29, 2002 incident when the resort abruptly closed its casino and restaurant, charged that the reason it was reopened was because of a violation of The Bahamas Hotel Corporation and Gaming Board's laws and procedures, which were grossly ignored.

"The BGAWU was informed that the Royal Oasis did not receive the government's approval," he stated, adding that the union itself was also not aware of the momentary closure until the morning of the incident.

He further stated that, in a televised interview, Gaming Board executive Kenyatta Gibson indicated that there will be ramifications after an impending investigation.

Britton said while the country needs investors, as the economy is dependent upon the investors and tourism, it does not need investors who will disrespect and not adhere to the laws and statutes of the country.

"The Bahamas Gaming and Allied Workers Union seeks to protect the rights of the Bahamian employees of the Royal Oasis and to negotiate an equitable contract for its members, similar to that of The Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union," Britton charged.

As such, the union president said the union is asking that the rights of the employees at the casino are laid out in a written contract to prevent the Royal Oasis, or any other company, from infringing on their existing rights and privileges.

"Is this too much to ask for?" he questioned.

"Great Bahamians by the name of Sir Lynden Pindling, Sir Randol Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling, Willamae Bridgewater, and the list goes on and on, contributed immeasurably to the establishment and success of the labour movement in The Bahamas.

"Thus, it would be a tragedy to allow certain investors to come into The Bahamas and make a mockery of the Constitution of the Bahamian people and our laws."

He noted that the Gaming Union's responsibility not only concerns the welfare of its members, but also to future generations of Bahamian children.

Britton further charged that, in the union's opinion, the Royal Oasis continues to demonstrate a lackadaisical attitude to the tourism industry of Grand Bahama, stating that the union has been informed of several incidents of guests being denied services.

"Room service, insufficient restaurants or bars being opened to accommodate their needs, limited casino tables opened to entertain their playing requirements, and minimal staffing of the hotel to meet the demands of guests and tourists potentially or otherwise," he explained.

"As a result, they have promised never to return to Grand Bahama or The Bahamas due to the insufficient services provided by the hotel and the poor attitude and assistance of the management of the resort in abating the situation."

President Britton noted that management of the resort continues to understaff the resort and casino, but continually request the services of employees to accommodate guests on short notice. He further noted that the union has received information that many of the regular guests or customers of the Royal Oasis are relocating to other hotel properties abroad.

"The Royal Oasis continues to operate in a perilous manner in which the Bahamian employees, and indeed the Bahamian economy will continue to deteriorate," he stated.

The union executive is now calling on Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, and again on Minister of Labour and Immigration Vincent Peet, to intervene and "execute an enduring resolution before it's too late."

Britton noted that the cooling off period with regard to the union's right to strike has expired, however, he is hoping for a different resolution.

"We hope to come to an amicable conclusion or an agreement with management and not have to use it," Britton stated. "I'm hoping that the ministry will intervene and get us back to the table and cause an agreement to be reached."

He then reported that morale among employees at the casino continues to be very low, and work is described as "just work."

"They (employees) don't know what to expect the next day, what's going to happen, and so on," he explained. "Everything is still up in the air and this is supposed to be the season, yet the employees are still working three and four days a week."

While the president would not explain in detail which issues have caused negotiations to be stalled, he did say that the parties did reach several agreements, however, he claimed that management of the resort included new arrangements which they wanted implemented in the contract which was already agreed upon.

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The Nassau Guardian

© 2002 The Freeport News

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