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Press Statement By The Hon. D. Shane Gibson, MP Minister of Labour & National Insurance

The Ministry of Labour & National Insurance wishes to express its disappointment with the recent actions taken by the Management of the Melià Hotel against the officers and members of the Bahamas Hotel Catering & Allied Workers Union.

It has come to our attention that the Management of the Hotel, and by extension the principals of Baha Mar, have taken a decision to cease the long standing arrangement of the collection of Union dues from Union members and turn the same over to the Hotel Union. Additionally, we have been advised that the security staff of the hotel has been given instructions to deny the duly elected officers of the Bahamas Hotel Catering & Allied Workers Union access to the Baha Mar properties.

On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I wish to remind the Management of Melià as well as the principals of Baha Mar that the Bahamas Hotel Catering & Allied Workers Union is the statutory recognized trade union for all non-managerial workers at the property and as such the hotel has a legal obligation to treat and enter into negotiations, in good faith, with the elected officials of the Union. Failure to recognize this and to work in accordance with the legislation, is a violation of the Industrial Relations Act and if convicted, the Management of Melia and Baha Mar will be subject to a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), imprisonment of up to two years or both fine and imprisonment.

In the letter that went to staff earlier this week that outlined the Hotel’s decision to cease the practice of union deductions with effect from 31 August, 2015, the Hotel makes reference to a recent Supreme Court decision. However, I wish to caution the Management of Melià and Baha Mar that the Government of The Bahamas has a duty to look out for the general welfare of all Bahamians and we are of the opinion that the action taken by the Hotel is not in the best interest of Bahamian workers.

I, therefore, call on the Management of the Hotel and Baha Mar, in the spirit of industrial goodwill, to take urgent and immediate steps to review and reverse their decision and consider whether it is in the best interest of the Hotel to create an environment of industrial unrest that will have a negative impact on the economy of The Bahamas.

I caution the principals of Baha Mar and of Melià and remind them that they are guests in our lovely Bahamaland and the Government will do whatever is necessary to protect the rights of Bahamian workers and ensure that the statute laws are enforced.

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