The hospitality union president said yesterday he was aiming ‘by the end of the summer’ to conclude negotiations on at least four of the five pending industry deals in a bid to alleviate the ‘huge pressure” on the workers.
Darrin Woods, the head of the Bahamas Hotel, Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU), told Tribune Business that in addition to the deal with some of the major resort employers in the Bahamas, he is also looking to strike a series of deals. with smaller properties and hotels. an effort to alleviate some of the inflationary pressures on its members.
The other industry talks are with three separate restaurants, he added, namely Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC or Bahamas Restaurants), Graycliff and the Poop Deck. And talks are also taking place on behalf of BHCAWU members with Harborside and Best Western properties as the union seeks wage and benefit adjustments that can at least partially offset the cost-of-living crisis.
“It puts them under enormous pressure,” Mr Woods told this newspaper of the increased inflation. “You look at the price of gas. We have seen that Esso has decided to pay attention to people rather than taking advantage to quote them. That’s important when you’re talking about paying over $6 a gallon for gas. This is unheard of in Nassau.
Vasco Bastian, an Esso dealer and vice president of the Bahamas Petroleum Retailers Association, conceded yesterday that the wholesaler had decided to cut the $7.39 a gallon it charged at all its stations to a level comparable to that of its rivals. , Ruby and Shell, because it had seen its sales drop by 50% as motorists switched to competitors that, at the time, cost $1 less.
Meanwhile, Mr Woods added: ‘People are really trying to tighten their belts as best they can to cope with the high cost of inflation. When you look at that, everything around them is going up except their salaries and that’s definitely a concern for them. They can’t do much, and sometimes their pay goes out before they get home.
“You have to put gas in your car to get to work and get paid. You are spending funds that you have not yet earned. We must find a solution. It’s hard to tighten your belt and have to choose between this and that. They must consider immediate rather than long-term needs, and spend between each point to get where they need to go without falling off or getting into trouble.
Mr Woods said the hospitality union was seeking to do its part by closing pending industry deals on terms that will help and be acceptable to its members. “We have five ongoing contracts that we are trying to close now to provide some relief to our members,” he added. “Most of them would have been concluded without COVID. We have been locked in various negotiations over the past three to four months.
“We have three restaurants, then a few smaller hotels. These are KFC, Graycliff and the Poop Deck. These are the three. The others are two small hotels, Harborside and Best Western. All of these have been outstanding for quite a while. We try to bring them to a conclusion. One of them is about 95% complete, the others we submitted the best recommendation we have. We’re back on track with those.
Mr Woods estimated that four of the five industrial agreements could be concluded “by the end of the summer”, in particular for restaurants and small hotels. He declined to identify which one was “95% complete,” or to speak to the principal with the Bahamas Hotel Employers Association (BHEA) and its member properties, including Atlantis, as he had pledged not to speak publicly until at the end of the talks. .
However, the head of the union indicated that only the financial conditions must be agreed with the BHEA and its members. He hinted that this negotiation would likely take longer than others due to the multiple hotel properties involved and the need for everyone to be happy with what is agreed.
Pledging that the union will push to close these industrial agreements “as soon as possible”, Mr Woods added: “It is important to try to provide some relief and to alleviate some of the physical pressure and mental. Whenever you are stressed and not sure where the extra dollar is coming from, it puts a lot of strain on your psyche.