Striking over an anachronism


What, no bar porters? Let’s move the yacht …

The continuing dispute at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess shows that some segments of Bermuda still haven’t woken up to the new economic realities.
No one likes to see anyone lose a job, but this dispute has more to do with the BIU trying to flex its muscles than a genuine concern for the wellbeing of the workers.
Apparently, this hotel is the last to employ bar porters, a role which is an absolute anachronism. If inadequate notice was given to the union, so what? The real issue is whether the employers are being given redundancy in line with their collective agreement.
Increasingly, labour disputes concern arguments over whether the often tortuous process was followed, not the heart of the matter.
No business happily lets a staff member go. But they must have the freedom to make good financial decisions to ensure the viability of their businesess. If Fairmont can’t afford to keep these staff on, then that has to be accepted. Better ten job losses than a closed hotel.
The Government was very quick to welcome the investments being made by the Green family in Bermuda, and while this certainly does not give an employer carte blanche to act as they wish, the Government needs to be sure its actions in this dispute encourage more foreign investment and don’t drive it away.

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One Response to Striking over an anachronism

  1. J Starling says:

    The worker’s actions in this case is not about the bar porters per se, but about the attempt by management to rip-up the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). If they can get away with this one action it sets a precedent, giving them license to further disregard the CBA – which in turn gives all other employers license to disregard their various CBA’s or even the Employment Act 2000 (as weak and timid a document as it is, it still provides basic protection for all workers).

    The hotel has the freedom to ‘make good financial decisions to ensure the viability of their businesess’, but they must do so within the quite reasonable terms outlined in the CBA. They (HamPrincess) has compounded this issue by failing to engage in arbitration properly and insulting the union and workers in general.

    I agree that Government needs to act here – they need to act to ensure HamPrincess engages in the process properly and stop provoking labour. It is the intransigence of HamPrincess which is causing this, not the union.

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