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All options will be explored to ensure workers get their due – Gonsalves

All options will be explored to ensure workers get their due – Gonsalves

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All legal options will be explored by the Government to ensure that the workers at the Buccament Bay Resort get the wages and salaries owed to them.

Minister of Labour Camillo Gonsalves, in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday, said he had indicated in a meeting on Monday with the managerial staff at the resort that the Government and the Ministry of Labour have a number of legal steps at their disposal, and he believes all options should be explored to ensure the workers get what is due to them.

The workers at the Buccament Bay Resort have been staging industrial action since last Friday, December 2, protesting the fact that they are owed over two months wages and salaries.{{more}}

“[The workers] are currently the primary interest of my Labour Department. The primary interest is ensuring the people who are owed money that we can exert as much legal pressure as possible, so we can convince Mr [Dave] Ames (chair and owner of Harlequin Hotels and Resorts, parent company to Buccament Bay Resort) and his management that they have to prioritize the fact that the workers have to get paid.”

Noting that while the Government cannot pay the staff’s half a million dollar monthly payroll and it is not the Government’s obligation to do so, the Government does have an obligation to protect the interest of the workers.

The Minister also corrected a report published in the Midweek edition of SEARCHLIGHT, on Tuesday, December 6, in which we quoted Burns Bonadie, general secretary of the Commercial, Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU).

Bonadie had told SEARCHLIGHT that during a meeting on Monday, December 5, an agreement was reached between Ames and the Labour Minister that the workers would be paid by Tuesday, December 6.

“The report in the SEARCHLIGHT of today (Tuesday, December 6) was not entirely accurate, from what I read; it…quoted somebody as saying that Mr Ames had promised to pay the outstanding monies today. But that is not true; Mr Ames never said that.”

The article stated: “According to Bonadie, a call was placed to Ames in the United Kingdom (UK) and the businessman gave [Camillo] Gonsalves the assurance that he would pay the workers what is owed to them by Tuesday, December 6.”

Gonsalves, however, explained that what was promised by Tues­day was a specific explanation in writing of how Ames intended to address the issue of outstanding monies owed to workers.

“What I asked him to do, because he called and he made certain commitments about when he would pay, and I asked him to provide today (Tuesday) in writing, a written and specific explanation of how he intended to address the outstanding monies. So what was expected today was a document from Mr Ames setting forth exactly how he planned to pay the money,” the Minister explained.

However, Gonsalves disclosed that what was addressed in the letter he received from Ames’ legal counsel on Tuesday was ‘a far cry’ from what was discussed with Ames in the telephone conversation on Monday.

“I did not get correspondence directly from Mr Ames; what instead I got was a letter from a gentleman called Daniel Abrams, who is the legal counsel for Harlequin and what Mr Abrams sent me is a very far cry from what Mr Ames promised me on the phone. Mr Ames made some commitments to me on the phone; I asked him to provide those commitments to me in writing; what I received in writing from his legal counsel is a far cry from what I thought I would receive,” the Minister explained.

Gonsalves stated that he had indicated to Ames’ legal counsel that the proposals he received were a ‘non-starter’.

“He gave me a very short timeframe by which he would pay up. What I received, and I asked him to put it in writing… today was a very long time frame that still does not make the workers whole at the end of that time frame.…

“What I received today I told the legal counsel that the proposal I received today was a non-starter and I would not persuade the Government to hold our hand in exercising our own options,” he stated.

Last Friday, workers of the resort began protesting after not receiving the salaries and wages for over two months. This protest marked the third time for the year that workers have staged a protest over wages and salaries owed to them. (CM)

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