OBA: Agreement With Workers, But Not Gencom

December 2, 2020 | 12 Comments

“There are two matters at play that the OBA finds disturbing,” Cole Simons said in reference to the $11 million cost for Fairmont Southampton worker’s redundancy pay, with the OBA Leader saying that it appears workers signed the agreements but the Government is “either unable or unwilling to secure an agreement” from Gencom to reimburse the Government for the $11 million.

Background

Mr Simons is speaking about the millions of dollars paid to cover the redundancy payments due to Fairmont Southampton workers, with the Government stepping in to make the payments after the company missed the payment deadline.

During a recent sitting of Parliament, the Minister was asked about Gencom’s financial position — with the Opposition querying how will they find the funds to renovate the hotel if they cannot pay the workers — and the Minister noted the impact of the pandemic on the tourism and financing markets.

“I would say that there has been some challenge in respect of finding appropriate financing sources at prices for which investors or operators are prepared to pay,” the Minister said in Parliament, adding that “it is my understanding that the owners are exhausting their options to find appropriately priced capital to move this project forward.”

The Finance Minister previously explained that prior to making payments to the employees, they took legal advice on the impact of the Employment Act and “the Agreements entered into by each employee prior to their payment are likewise designed with the statute in mind.”

The Minister added, “Following expiry of the November 20th deadline that Gencom had provided for making the payments, and after a week of hearing no proposals from them with respect to effecting these payments, lawyers representing the Employees will issue a Statutory Demand requiring payments of the amounts outstanding from Westend Properties Limited.

“If no arrangements are made with respect to the payments, the Employees’ lawyers are free to apply to the Supreme Court of Bermuda on the basis that the company is unable to make its payments when they are due.”

OBA Leader Cole Simons’ Comments

Mr Simons said, “There are two matters at play that the OBA finds disturbing. Number One – We find it very ironic and unconscionable that this Progressive Labour Party Government, a labour government, protects its own interests by burdening the 700 employees of the Fairmont Southampton with not one, not two, but three agreements that from our perspective, they may have had no choice but to sign:

  • The first being: a written loan agreement;
  • The second – a written Deed of Assignment agreement; and
  • The third – a written Notice of Assignment agreement

“These workers signed these three agreements but yet, this same Government is either unable or unwilling to secure an agreement from Gencom Limited which will confirm their agreement to reimburse the Government of Bermuda for the $11M funds which were advanced to the Fairmont Southampton employees in accordance with the severance payments made under Section 23 of the Employment Act 2000.

“Who is the Government protecting? Are they protecting Gencom Limited, because of their other Bermuda based interest which takes the form of the Rosewood Tuckers Point? Are they protecting the severance payments of the 700 Fairmont Southampton employees, and their associated rights, or are they covering themselves for the recovery of the $11,000,000 voluntary payment made to the Fairmont employees?

“It is a crying shame that the Burt Government is prepared to burden our employees who can least afford it, and who are likely very, very uncomfortable with the three written agreements, ” Mr Simons added.

“In light of these developments, may I encourage the community to stay tuned to this unfortunate situation, as our tourism employees are currently bearing the weight of this unfortunate situation, especially as it involves Westend Properties Limited/Gencom Limited’s infraction of Bermuda’s Employment Act and more importantly, the possible impact on the employees.

“Consider this: If Gencom Limited is unable to meet its repayment obligations to the Bermuda Government, what will that mean for Bermuda’s taxpayers? Will we be made responsible to repay the $11 million dollars in a time when we can ill afford it? The answer is yes.’

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Comments (12)

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  1. wahoo says:

    Are these workers not unionized? have they not been paying dues to the union specifically for such an occasion? Why did government get involved? Is the union broke?

  2. Jevon Ray says:

    It’s good to see a government helping out it’s people facing financial hardships. The government is in a better position to get the money owed than the employees. The OBA would have done nothing, is what I get from these news clippings.

    • WillSee says:

      Stop deflecting! Where is the union to help and legally protect the workers.
      The union should be held accountable for its failure to do so.
      There must employment laws regarding union representation ect.

    • Rasta says:

      Mon de obaUBP is making Bermy mon pay for a 200 million dollar MORGAN HOTEL. :) Of course de would do something stupid again rast cloud!

  3. Lynne Winfield says:

    The people of Bermuda overwhelming voted for a labour government and want to see their government support the working class, especially during these difficult times. If government had done nothing, we would have seen 700 Southampton Princess employees struggle to make ends meet, let alone be able to face Christmas without the basic needs. If Gencom continued to not meet its repayment obligations, Government would have had to step in anyway with social support for these individuals, so they could continue to have a roof over their heads and basic needs met, so its disingenuous to suggest that now taxpayers will have to pay $11M at a time when we can ill afford it, as one way or another the taxpayer would need to step in to support those in trouble. I support the government’s actions in this regard, and I recognise that it may well affect taxes but that’s what being my brother’s keeper means, especially in the economic situation we find ourselves in. There but for the Grace of God. At least the option is there to take Gencom to court to have the money repaid.

    • truthertz says:

      No one is complaining about the workers being paid Lynne. No one I know of and not the above article either So stop being disingenuous for once in your arguments. The workers deserved every penny as they are legally entitled.

      The fact of the matter is that this Government who has lambasted other companies for enacting redundancies (despite them meeting their legal obligations in the form of redundancy payments) has not yet criticised Gencom for failing to adhere to the law. On top of that despite their illegal action the Government is requiring the impacted employees to seek legal redress from Gencom. Why isn’t this ‘labor’ Government not holding Gencom to account for breaking the law (a law I imagine was passed by the PLP)? If it was any other company their rhetoric would be bombastic with threats all around. But in this case they are pretty silent which is pretty telling and puts a alot of credence to the current rumour mill about election campaign donations and the like.

      I know you wouldn’t ever dare to criticise the PLP, but in this case it is well deserved. And again to preempt your inevitable disingenuous rebuttal the criticism I refer to is the light touch they have displayed thus far to Gencom and not the payout to the workers. So get off your high horse for once Lynne and address the issue at hand instead of trying to twist the points being made to fulfill your narrow ideology.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      The number of seats won in the election makes it appear that the people of Bermuda voted overwhelmingly for the plp but in fact I believe that the total registered voter percentage was something like 34% for the plp , so that’s not really an overwhelming statement .
      Furthermore , I wouldn’t really worry about the impact 11 million will have on your taxes. It’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the effect of 3.5bn

      • LOL says:

        STFU the oba is finished and has kicked the bucket it’s a rap now move over for the FDM.

        6 seats to 30 seats

        • Question says:

          30 seats with 34% of voters voting for them. The number of seats is totally out of proportion to the votes they got,
          You’re the one that should STFU.

        • trufth says:

          No one was talking about the OBA. Are you hearing voices?

        • Toodle-oo says:

          You need some serious anger management help . Sorry you get so mad at facts that you can’t argue with .

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