BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, August 13, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – Minister of Labour, the Honourable Wendy Phipps, said the three consultative meetings with displaced employees within the hotel sector, that came largely at the request of the management of those establishments, have been highly successful as they afforded these workers the opportunities to pose pertinent questions and have their concerns pertaining to the status of their employment addressed.
To date, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris and Minister Phipps have held discussions with the management and staff of the Royal St. Kitts Hotel, the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and the Four Seasons Resort on Nevis.
Under the section ‘Statement by Ministers’ on the Order Paper at Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly, the Minister of Labour noted that two of three meetings held so far came at the request of the management of the hotels.
In the case of the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, that meeting was initiated by Prime Minister Harris to give the affected employees there an opportunity to air their concerns.
Minister Phipps added, “On the 14th of July, the honourable prime minister and I would have met with the Royal St. Kitts Hotel staff at the request of the hotel management, which was different with the case of the Marriott, and that meeting was amicably held. Similar concerns would have been raised and it was an opportunity for the staff to express their concerns, and as I noted, the total number of staff that would have been affected was just about maybe 88 or 89 members of staff in that particular instance.”
The honourable minister added that the Wednesday, August 12 meeting at the Four Seasons Resort came as a direct result of a written invitation sent to Prime Minister Harris and herself, in her capacity as Minister of Labour, by the resort’s Regional Vice President and General Manager, Mrs. Yvette Thomas-Henry.
“The letter was sent to us on the 22nd of July, requesting a meeting with the staff because obviously she would have noted that prior discussions would have been held with the Marriott and I guess at the same time with the Royal St. Kitts Hotel and she wanted her staff to be equally able to avail themselves of a discussion with the prime minister and the Minister of Labour to discuss their own concerns…and as noted in her letter the intention of the meeting was to give the workers an opportunity to ask questions and to clarify any issues they have considering the fact that a loss of an employment is obviously a point of anxiety and as such it would then provide opportunities to have questions asked,” Minister Phipps explained.
Given the nature of the meeting that was requested, Labour Commissioner, Ms. Shernel James, was also in attendance to directly address inquiries regarding the legislative provisions related to employment, and the rights and obligations of both employers and employees.
Wednesday’s meeting was described by all parties, including Prime Minister Harris, the Honourable Wendy Phipps and a number of staff present as amicable and highly informative.
Senator Phipps further noted that the Government is open to hosting similar consultations with other workers around the Federation “because we do recognize that COVID-19 is unlike any other exogenous impact on our people than before in living history and as a result of that we would want to be in a position to provide information about employment, economic impact etc, and give some measure of comfort as to the avenues of assistance that are available to displaced persons under this current dispensation.”