Hayward craves Bermudian boost in hotel sector
An effort to boost the number of Bermudians employed in the hotel industry is to be launched, the labour minister said yesterday.
Jason Hayward wants to increase Bermudian representation in the sector by 6.5 per cent to 80 per cent.
He also hopes to boost the number of Bermudians in management roles in hotels.
He was speaking after a tripartite summit involving the Government, the hotel industry and trade unions, held at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on Friday.
Mr Hayward said: “The overall goal of the meeting was to engage in an open dialogue between stakeholders to reach mutually beneficial outcomes that will ensure job security and allow hoteliers to remain open,” he said.
He added that the meeting discussed policies, legislation and other factors that affected the hotel industry in the wake of the economic and human havoc wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Participants included the Bermuda Hotel Association, the Bermuda Industrial Union, the Ministry of Labour, the Hotel Employers of Bermuda and the tourism ministry.
Collective bargaining agreements, redundancy and layoffs, work permits, repatriation of staff, hotel redevelopment, unemployment benefits and training and development programmes were all on the agenda.
Mr Hayward said: “On the matter of work-permit holders that are unable to work, during the meeting, we discussed the recent amendment of the Employment Act to exclude the period of the shelter-in-place from the calculation of the period of layoff.
“Hotel employers were advised that decisions regarding individual layoffs, redundancy, work-permit renewals, repatriation, and rehiring all should be considered carefully and in line with current laws.
“Employers should pay attention to their particular circumstances and make their decisions accordingly.”
Mr Hayward added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted Bermuda's economy and our hotel industry has sustained substantial losses.
“With the gradual reopening of the country, it is critical that urgent actions are taken to manage the future of the industry and mitigate any further loses.
“We are well aware that a large number of individuals in Bermuda rely on the hotel industry to put food on the table, make their rent or mortgage payments, send their children to school, and put clothes on their backs.
“Only through each and every one of our hotel industry stakeholders working together, do we stand the best chance of success.”
Mr Hayward said: “The tripartite social dialogue is the first step in a concerted effort to overcome the financial challenges faced by many, and I am grateful for all that attended and the contributions made.”
Stephen Todd, the chief executive of the Bermuda Hotel Association and the Hotel Employers of Bermuda, was pleased that the minister had organised the meeting.
Mr Todd said employment was at the forefront of his organisation's concerns and that he hoped the Government would consider a further extension of the time frame for emergency unemployment benefits to hotel workers who could be out of work for longer.
He warned: “We believe that financial assistance will be required well beyond the extension of 16 weeks.
“We are concerned that once that is up, financial hardship will still be evident for a significant number of individuals.”
Mr Todd hoped that a balance could be struck between the need to employ Bermudians and the need for hotels to have key staff in place when they reopened.
He said: “A number of those workers are on island and required to be available to us when a given property opens.”