Unionized workers were seen heading away from the Hamilton Princess on Tuesday morning, and BIU president Chris Furbert criticised recent redundancies at the hotel. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead
Unionized workers were seen heading away from the Hamilton Princess on Tuesday morning, and BIU president Chris Furbert criticised recent redundancies at the hotel. *Photo by Nicola Muirhead

Unionized workers at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess are expected to be off the job today at the hotel.

And workers from the Fairmont Southampton could join them later this morning.

On Wednesday of last week, the Bermuda Industrial Union was notified that five members of the union would be made redundant on Friday, January 31 (five other non-unionized workers were also made redundant on Friday).

The five unionized workers — three bar porters and two in-room dining captains — were given four weeks pay in lieu of notice. 

Tuesday morning the workers at the Fairmont Hamilton held a meeting and then walked off the job in support of the staff which were made redundant.

Workers at the Fairmont Southampton also held a meeting and withheld any action for 24 hours. That 24-hour period ends before 11am on Wednesday.

 Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy referred the matter to the Labour Relations Dispute Panel last Saturday.

Minister Fahy said yesterday: “These are very unfortunate circumstances. However, I am renewing my call to both groups and asking them to ensure that business operates as normal as possible until this matter has been satisfactorily resolved. It remains my sincere hope that the parties can rectify this matter for the benefit of all involved.”

BIU president Chris Furbert told the Bermuda Sun when the Fairmont Hamilton is operating normal, it has 300 to 400 unionized workers. 

He was adamant the workers would stay off the job.

Mr Furbert said: “The Minister should have picked up the phone and said we need to hold a conversation as this is getting out of hand. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that one out. You can see things are going to get worse, they’re not going to get any better.”

The BIU president said the possibility of an island-wide strike of unionized hotel workers “is there, but that is their decision” and not mandated from the BIU.

He reiterated his call for Minister Fahy “to reach out to the parties and get them together; to have a conversation with them to see whether or not something could be done between the two parties as opposed to just sitting out there and sending e-mails; sending press statements.”

At a press conference yesterday, Mr Furbert said it was “inexcusable” of hotel management not to have consultation with the union before making the workers redundant .

Mr Furbert said: “I would like for them to respect what’s in this collective bargaining agreement.

“We had not sat down and had any dialogue about redundancies or layoffs. I was a bit perturbed, to say the least.”

He added the union held a meeting with the Hamilton Princess management and wanted to know who was going to do the work of the staff that was being made redundant.

He said: “That job has still got to be performed by someone.”

Mr Furbert said it was expected by management that the bartenders will pick up the slack for the redundant bar porters by doing their jobs. 

He said: “This decision has been made without any consultation whatsoever of the bartenders. How do you do this sort of thing in 2014? You want some people to pick up some additional responsibilities and not even have a conversation with them as to what needs to happen.”

The sacked workers were given documents to sign by the Fairmont Hamilton, but Mr Furbert took a stance and said: “On instructions from the BIU, nobody’s signed and no one’s going to sign.”

He said: “The Green’s (who own the Fairmont Hamilton Princess) have done a lot of good things for the hotel… but amidst all these positives we now have this negative thing that jumps out to everybody and it’s not very pleasant.” n