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TCI: ‘Big mistake’ says Deputy Premier after Gansevoort staff ‘change’ letter leaked

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#Providenciales, December 12, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – A letter issued under the guise of being ‘fair play’ for resort staff at the Gansevoort, was condemned and labelled ‘punitive’ and an apparent retaliation to the implementation of the amended Hotel and Restaurant (Service Charge) Ordinance 2018.

The law, since September, makes it mandatory for hospitality workers to receive 100 percent of service charges on guests’ bills; ending decades of partial payments to workers.

Among those getting that social media circulated letter was Deputy Premier and Minister responsible for Employment, Sean Astwood.

“I saw the letter this morning and I immediately contacted the Gansevoort to confirm its authenticity because on first sight of it, I thought someone was actually playing mischief with the company.  However, the company confirmed that it is a letter they had issued out to their employees…” said the Minister on Tuesday.

Gansevoort had expected the amended law to come into effect on December 1, 2018 because that was the date announced by the PDM Administration.  The letter to staff at the resort, restaurant and spa property was dated November 27, 2018.

On Tuesday, during a press conference aimed at debriefing the public on results of an official trip to the United Kingdom, the Deputy Premier, when questioned about the letter had strong words for the Gansevoort and other properties considering similar tactics in reaction to the service charge ordinance amendments taking effect.

“I have already scheduled a meeting with the owner of the Gansevoort and already verbally expressed my concerns for the content of that letter.  Not just for the simple things of uniforms and food but the implications on transference of work permits etcetera.”

Gansevoort Turks and Caicos is actually owned by Wymara Ltd and Stelle Ltd. The letter from the owners informed staff that they would now see salary deductions to pay for uniforms, that they would have to buy their own lunch meals because the complimentary cafeteria would no longer be offered and that areas like the spa and restaurant would opt out of levying the service charge altogether; leaving the size of tips up to the guests.

Gansevoort splits the service charge with management and staff; staff gets 65 percent.

Deputy Premier Astwood said upcoming discussions with the resort sector will lead to more changes to the Service Charge Ordinance, hence the delay in its implementation.  As the minister with oversight of the Service Charge law, DP Astwood explained that the forum would give resort property owners the chance to further express their trepidations.

“I can say to you that it is not something that I intend to take lightly and actually I will take this opportunity to caution companies, to make sure that any type of what seems to be retaliation or harm that would come unto staff would not be taken lightly and they should refrain from it.”

The Deputy Premier expressed concern about the position the company plans to take in relation to staff transfers from the restaurant – Stelle – to the resort.

The two page letter says:  “There is an option for Stelle Ltd employees, should you wish to move over to become Wymara Ltd employees and share in the service charge pool.  These employees will be reissued new employment contracts (still employed in their restaurant positions).  Work permit employees will be given the option to move over to become Wymara Ltd employees when their existing work permit expire(s) and applications will be treated as first time application(s), thus providing a risk of not being approved.”

Gansevoort, in that staff ‘change’ letter explained, “Whilst we are sure you will understand as your share of service charge has increased, the Management Companies share has been completely taken away and as a result of this, we have regrettably had to reduce some of the benefits we have been able to offer to you over the past 10 years.”

The Premier was in the press conference on Tuesday. It was clear that Hon Sharlene Robinson found the various controversies emerging since the amendments to the law which gives resort employees significantly more take home pay, vexing.

“It is very disappointing, the atmosphere that has been created,” said Premier Robinson who is also responsible for Finance and brought the Service Charge Bill to the House of Assembly, “for the last 14 years, people have been doing as they like even with the legislation.  It is not new, it is a change in rate, yes it became mandatory… but this has just revealed the meanness of some corporate citizens, the meanness.”

The Premier reminded that the law, in its changed formed, is already passed and assured that there would be no roll back.

“We provided a resort facility fee, a fee that would allow them to regain what they are losing so to roll back benefits is because you want to.”

A two month delay reignited debate on the Hotel and Restaurant Service Charge 2018.  On February 1, 2019 the ordinance will come into effect and impacts bookings at resorts made after February 1, 2019 only.

 

#MagneticMediaNews

#Gansevoort

#staffchangeletterleaked

#servicechargebill

 

 

 

Education

TCI Agriculture launches Plant Clinic

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – These days anything can be online, even a plant clinic! The Turks and Caicos Islands Department of Agriculture wants to help budding and experienced farmers with any plant issues they may have and their new Online Plant Clinic is their solution to help as many Islanders as possible.

Launched on Thursday, June 16 the clinic will operate through Facebook. Individuals with sick plants or pest issues will be required to take a photo of the issue and upload that photo to the department of Agriculture’s Facebook page.

Answers to issues will be given once a month, on every third Thursday, via a public video so all Islanders can have access. The launch was attended by Chief Plant Protection Officer-CPPO Roneta Huntley Thomas, Director of Agriculture Wilhelmina Kissoonsingh, Minister of Agriculture Josephine Connolly, and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Mrs. Cheryl Ann Jones.

Connolly urged residents to “grow your own food and grow TCI.”

Attendees of the launch were allowed to participate in games trying to identify different diseases for a chance at prizes. Residents can now immediately start sending in their photos on the Facebook page.

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Caribbean News

138 illegals add to the over 900 migrants captured by TCI Joint Forces

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FILE PHOTO

#TurksandCaicos, June 25, 2022 – RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre and partners continue to work together to protect our borders and keep TCI secure.

During the evening of Wednesday 22nd June 2022 the RTCIPF Marine Operations Centre identified a target of interest and immediately started to track the vessel around 5 miles North West of Providenciales travelling at around 7 knots.

The operator immediately updated colleagues within the Royal Turks and Caicos Marine Branch who made their way to the location and intercepted a vessel containing irregular migrants. Following a delicate, coordinated operation with the necessary stabilization of the vessel which was unsafe, severely overcrowded and the occupants were without life vests, the RTCIPF Marine Unit was joined by a second RTCIPF Marine crew and a third vessel crewed with TCI Regiment to support the delicate operation.

The vessel was carefully offloaded at sea to ensure the safety of the occupants and then the boat was towed to South Dock where it arrived around 4:45am with a total of 138 persons, 98 males and 40 female including 1 juvenile, who were then taken into custody by the Immigration Department. One male needed immediate medical attention in relation to a leg injury sustained.

Superintendent Martyn Ball said, “Again working with partners we have safely intercepted another vessel that was desperately overcrowded, unsafe and risked the lives of those on board. It continues to demonstrate the professionalism and dedication of the RTCIPF Marine Unit, working together with colleagues in the Marine Operations Centre, TCI Regiment, TCI Immigration and Health to save lives and keep our borders here in the Turks and Caicos Islands safe.

In the last couple of months over 900 individuals on 9 dangerous and unseaworthy vessels have been intercepted here in the TCI.

I would appeal to anyone if you have any information relating to such activity that you call CrimeStoppers free and anonymously on 1-800-8477, not only will you be saving lives but also supporting our national security here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

 

Caption: FILE PHOTO

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Caribbean News

Turks & Caicos Airline becomes first International flight at Ian Fleming in Jamaica

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By Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer

 

#Jamaica, June 25, 2022 – As the Turks and Caicos and Jamaica celebrated a new connection on June 16th as Intercaribbean Airways launched their newest flight to Boscobel, St Mary, half an hour from the famous city of Ocho Rios on Jamaica’s North Coast.

The Ian Fleming Airport is named for the famous author who penned the James Bond series just miles away from the airport. Never one to miss a theme, InterCaribbean dubbed their flight the JY 007.

The 007 departed Providenciales at 9:30 am Thursday (June 16) with Lyndon Gardiner, Chairman of InterCaribbean Airways; Trevor Sadler, InterCaribbean Airways CEO; Chris and Kayon Stokes of NCS Money Services; Team Beaches TCI, some media namely SunTCI and Magnetic Media as well as a few Jamaicans anxious to get home.

The 007, Ian Fleming Airport’s first international commercial flight, was received in Jamaica with much fanfare.  It was met by a Jamaican delegation including Audley Shaw, Minister of Transport for Jamaica and Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister and a cheerful water cannon spurt to sweeten the arrival of the first international flight at Ian Fleming.

Bartlett was enthusiastic about the prospects that Inter-Caribbean was bringing to Jamaica.

“The presence today of this inaugural flight from a Caribbean island into Boscobel is a bigger statement than what has been made because what it does is to put together the idea of connectivity in a material way. It is how we as a region are going to be able to connect with each other in a way that brings economic value and prosperity to each other and that’s the power of this movement that begins today.”

The minister noted that Tourism was a booming business if only we were aware of how to take charge of it.

“We are about ideas and how to convert ideas into things that have a material value, we are the most consumption-driven activity on planet earth. “ he added “the next critical consideration that has to be looked at …is that we need a single visa regime for touristic purposes that can be provided for visitors coming into your space… a CARICOM visa that allows you entry into all the CARICOM countries.”

Gardiner expressed his excitement for the venture telling the media,“Only the sun covers the Caribbean better than we do.” He also told the gathered press. “We will now have the ability to bring people from across the Caribbean, whether it be for business, pleasure, or furthering multi-destination vacations, by offering Boscobel residents and visitors direct service across the Caribbean and vice versa.”

InterCaribbean Airways will run their flight monthly initially and then upgrade to weekly flights. It would be the third flight between Turks and Caicos and Jamaica; already Kingston and Montego Bay are serviced by the airline based in Providenciales, TCI.

American Airlines and QCAS Aero are also scheduled to begin flights to the Ian Fleming International this year.

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