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30 RIU workers fired, attorney claims

  • Axed RIU hotel employees hold signs outside the hotel on Paradise Island yesterday. TORRELL GLINTON

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: May 15, 2013

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Approximately 30 people were fired from the RIU hotel on Paradise Island, a lawyer representing the workers said yesterday.

Attorney Glendon Rolle said the fired workers are mainly from the Housekeeping and the Food and Beverage Departments.

When The Nassau Guardian arrived on the property several of the axed workers were gathered just outside the premises.

Rolle said he along with attorney Ian Cargill, who also represents the workers, were scheduled to have an “amicable” meeting with hotel management yesterday morning.

However, he said when they arrived for the meeting they were given surprising news.

"The only persons who spoke to us were the attorney for the hotel and the human resource manager informing us that there will be 30 people who will be terminated because of gross misconduct,” Rolle said.

He said it is unclear what constituted “gross misconduct”.

Rolle said most of the people who took part in a demonstration outside the property on Wednesday were either on a break, or were off.

Tacarra Lightbourne, a mother of five, said she was among those terminated.

Lightbourne said after working for the hotel for nearly nine years, she does not deserve to go out like that.

She called on the government to step in and support the workers.

“We all have children,” she said. “We have our bills. We are not only calling on the prime minister and the minister of labor, but we are pleading with our coworkers to take a stand...Together we stand and divided we fall.”

Asked how she will make ends meet, Lightbourne said she will continue to trust in God.

“But we need help,” Lightbourne said. “We are crying out to the government and the people of The Bahamas. We need your help.”

Cocktail waitress, Tameka Dawkins, 30, was also terminated.

According to her termination letter, she was “summarily dismissed for gross misconduct under section 31 of the Employment Act”.

It says “an employer may summarily dismiss an employee without pay or notice when the employee has committed a fundamental breach of his contract of employment or has acted in a manner repugnant to the fundamental interests of the employer; provided that such employee shall be entitled to receive previously earned pay.”

The letter said Dawkins will be compensated later this week.

Dawkins said she was shocked when she received the letter as she was off on Monday when she demonstrated.

She said she can not afford to be without work right now.

“At the end of the day, I still have to go out and look for a job because I am still a single mother of two living on my own,” she said.

Laneice Moncur, who works in housekeeping, said her name was also on the list.

She said she refused to take the letter from hotel officials.

Moncur, who was with the hotel for about seven years, said she has three children, the youngest of whom is 18.

She said she does not regret demonstrating.

“I did it for the rights of my co-workers,” she said.

Moncur claimed that housekeepers are overworked and often made to do work that should be done by house mates.

The Nassau Guardian attempted to talk to RIU management; however, efforts proved fruitless.

Labour Minister Shane Gibson said yesterday he is aware of the concerns expressed by the workers.

Gibson said it is unfortunate that they did not go through the proper channels before withdrawing their labor.

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