Finance Minister Curtis Dickinson has confirmed that the Bermuda Government will step in assist Fairmont Southampton employees made redundant and still waiting for their redundancy payments by making “loans to employees” and not the employer.

The big question today is WHY? And since when does a government bail out employers bound by law when it comes to redundancies?

According to the Minister, the bail out will require repayment once the funds owed are paid by Gencom.

As it stands now, the Government will dip into the public purse to pay funds owed by the employers.

“It is clear that having missed the October 23rd payment deadline, these payments are in doubt”, said Mr Dickinson, who also stated that it is “unacceptable to leave the workers in the dark”.

But since when was it this country’s taxpayers’ responsibility to bail out the employers?

As stated by the Minister, the Government “will also take steps to ensure that the continuing obligations for payments to employees are given appropriate priority by Gencom”.

Having said that – why not go after Gencom for repayment?

Once again, the question remains: With clear laws on the books that require employers to do their due diligence – how is this now the responsibility of Bermuda’s taxpayers?

In September, Fairmont Southampton announced that the property will close temporarily to undergo major renovations.

But this journalist has received reports that at the end of the day, this South Shore resort may never reopen.

Admittedly, while speaking at a news conference on Monday (November 9), the Minister said the resulting redundancies as a result of the temporary closure of the hotel has “had a searing impact on the workers and the people of Bermuda generally”.

“The Bermuda Government supported the redevelopment plan put forward by hotel owners Gencom in December 2019 when they purchased the hotel. At that time, it was clear that the hotel would need to be closed for extensive renovations.

“Additionally, it was known that redundancy payments would need to be paid to the hotel workers, many of whom have spent their entire working lives on the premises, making the tourism industry that we all rely on successful.

“What no one foresaw was the interruption to the 2020 tourist season brought on by the COVID19 pandemic,” he added.

“All Bermuda hotels, and indeed hotels worldwide, have seen their businesses closed, temporarily or otherwise, and their workers without an ability to support their families.

“It has been hard on everyone, but especially hard on those in our hotels and restaurants who rely heavily on gratuities to earn a living. However, the challenging operating environment does not remove the obligation on the hotel owners to make payments to employees, as they have elected to make staff redundant.”

Having said that, the question remains: Why would the Government opt to bail out the workers without going after the owners to due what the LAW requires them to do?

According to the Minister: “The Bermuda Government, through the Ministries of Finance and Labour, have been engaged with stakeholders to ensure that the hotel owners meet their obligations to the workers. It is clear that having missed the October 23rd payment deadline, these payments are in doubt.

“It is unacceptable to leave the workers in the dark until November 20th as most, if not all, have financial obligations to meet today.

“Therefore, the Bermuda Government has put into action a plan to pay the workers directly through a program designed to see workers paid as soon as this week. These payments will be in the form of loans to employees equal to amounts due to them in redundancy, which will require repayment once sums are paid by Gencom.”

Here’s the main question: Why not make the loan requirements payable by Gencom and NOT the workers?

“We will also take steps to ensure that the continuing obligations for payments to employees are given appropriate priority by Gencom,” said Mr Dickinson.

“The workers and management at Fairmont Southampton have done everything to bring this difficult phase of the hotel closure to a sensible conclusion, and we appreciate and recognize their efforts.”

But while the Government appreciates and recognizes their efforts – no one is saying why this mess is now costing Bermuda’s taxpayers.

Let’s go hypothetical – suppose Gencom never pays what funds are due as required by law? Then what? Ultimately, it means that the public purse will pay the costs – not Gencom – not Fairmont Southampton – but the taxpaying residents of Bermuda.

In the words of Arsenio Hall – this too translates into: “Things that make you go hmmmmm!”