Photo: Jeroen/Foursquare

Hotel workers protested outside the front entrance to Fairmont Southampton this morning, the day after the resort’s Executive Team answered a list of questions citing their concerns and the lack of guarantees on when they will receive redundancy pay.

This after the initial date of receipt, which was today (October 23), was pushed back to November 20. The notice said it may be paid before then, but Thomas Jones, the Bermuda Industrial Union’s representative told TNN that management “keeps moving the goal posts” on that.

In the meantime, he said the families of staff, left hard done by and unemployed are suffering. All they want to hear, he said, is when they will get their money.

At that point in time he was joined by roughly 20 staff members – more were expected to arrive once the protest action started just before 10am this morning.

Their jobs will be officially terminated at the end of the day today with no guarantee of payment.

“We weren’t even guaranteed we would get it November 20. We are being made redundant and terminated at the end of today which is worrying to us with no guarantee of payment.”

The email sent out on Thursday (October 22) to staff, Van Der Elst, Michel (SHP) said: “A number of our colleagues have asked questions regarding the redundancy payout, so thought that we would share the most common with you, to provide you further insight.”

That email listed answers to the following questions: 

Why the delay?  The hotel has incurred enormous losses this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We never expected that the hotel would be forced to close and make redundant almost all of our colleagues. In these unprecedented times, the original target date of October 23, has proven to be unachievable due to the complexity of accessing funds of such a significant amount.

How can ownership afford to renovate the hotel if they can’t pay redundancy monies? Project funding is targeted to be secured by the first quarter 2021, in time for planned commencement April 1, 2021.

How do I know that the target date won’t change again? We are bitterly disappointed in letting our colleagues down, and we will continue to work tirelessly in ensuring there is no further delay in payments.

Do monies owed still have to be paid by October 23? No. Any colleagues who have not elected to have monies owed deducted from their redundancy may settle their account prior to redundancy monies being available.

Am I still employed up to November 20? No, your employment ends on October 23, 2020.

Can I seek other employment? Yes, you are free to seek other employment as of October 24, 2020 and will not affect the redundancy package.

Will I still receive redundancy money if I haven’t settled my debts? All debts must be paid before payment of redundancy.

Can I stay on the island until my redundancy is paid? You can stay for 21 days after October 23rd (until November 10th). The payment of your redundancy is not affected.

Can my medical coverage plan be stopped at the end of October? Currently, your coverage continues up to November 30. Should you wish to end your coverage at the end of October, please advise T&C by October 28.

In closing, the email said: “If you have any further questions, please ask your Executive Committee Member,” signed “sincerely” by the hotel’s Executive Team.

Staff employed at Fairmont Southampton were informed last month that their jobs were being made redundant due to the temporary closure of the South Shore property until April 2021.

The 18-month shuttering for renovations resulted in roughly 750 layoffs, 500 of them Bermudian workers.

The hotel’s General Manager Kiaran MacDonald, acknowledged the fact that the closure would cause “significant hardship”.

This after an investment firm based in Miami Florida – Gencom acquired the hotel property in December 2019. The acquisition came with the announcement of plans for major renovations.

Bermuda Real contacted the Minister of Labour’s media representative regarding a statement on today’s protest action.

We have yet to receive word on whether or not a statement by the Minister is pending.

  • Top Feature Photo Courtesy of TNN