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Terming “these events as most unfortunate, particularly in the current economic climate”, Minister of Labour, Jason Hayward moved to “reassure the workers” that his Ministry will do everything it can to ensure that the hotel makes payment “on or before November 20th”.

Responding to the protest action at Fairmont Southampton on Friday, the Minister said: “While I understand and appreciate the frustration and disappointment that will arise, I want to reassure the workers that the Ministry has been in contact with the workers’ BIU representative and that Gencom, owners of the property, have communicated that employees of Fairmont Southampton will receive redundancy payments on or before November 20th.

The Bermuda Government accepts that this one of the largest number of redundancies ever made in Bermuda by a single employer, and as such creates a level of complexity to execute. However, I again want to reassure the workers that the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Finance, will continue to actively engage with industry stakeholders to support them and ensure their rights are protected.”

The Ministry also reminded “employers of their legal responsibility to pay severance allowance under Section 23 of the Employment Act 2000 and any relevant Collective Bargaining Agreement”.

Hotel workers protested outside the front entrance to Fairmont Southampton on Friday, 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.

Their jobs will be officially terminated at the end of the day on Friday (October 23) 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.