Friday, March 31, 2006


Freeport Workers Faring Well After Taking Over Timeshare Hotel

Twelve employees of the Coral Beach Hotel in Freeport are said to be doing well since taking over the day-to-day operations of the small timeshare resort almost six months ago.

Second Vice president of the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, Lloyd Cooper, told The Bahama Journal on Wednesday that the employees, who were initially in danger of losing their jobs but are now their own bosses, have proven they can do the job for themselves.

"They are doing well…They are in charge of the timeshare grounds, they are in charge of the rooms and they have housemen and security guards," Mr. Cooper said.

"The former employees of Coral Beach, who are now owners of the timeshare resort, now have their own destiny; they have their own bank account and everything else. They are the first so far [to] lead the way which I think is a major accomplishment."

Mr. Cooper said all that remains is for the heads of agreement to be signed by the employees and the timeshare resort’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bruno Rufa. Mr. Cooper said Mr. Rufa, who resides in Canada, is expected to be in Grand Bahama next month for the signing.

According to Mr. Cooper, when he and Mr. Rufa last communicated, the chairman was very pleased with the way the employees were managing the timeshare resort.

Mr. Cooper said this unique situation "puts the responsibility on the employees" and "it shows that they can do for themselves… and do it better [than anyone else]."

Owners of the timeshare hotel were able to avoid a potentially explosive situation in September 2005 by reaching what hotel union members called, "a very good settlement."

The workers had been laid off after management claimed the timeshare hotel was losing money. At the time, employees were awarded their severance pay based on their years of service in accordance with the 2001 Industrial Relations Act, according to Mr. Cooper.

But after union leaders met with Mr. Rufa, the employees were able to retain their severance pay, in addition to getting their jobs back.

According to the agreement, the company would not replace the employees either by new employees or by sub-contractors and the agreement also provided for the employees to be able to get salaries in line with what they previously received.

Most of the employees have worked for the timeshare hotel for a minimum of eight to 24 years. Presently, David Bain, a security guard, acts as a manger for the timeshare resort.

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