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Hayward vows to help laid-off hotel workers

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Staff thrown out of work by the closure of the Fairmont Southampton hotel will be helped to find jobs elsewhere, the labour minister promised yesterday.

Jason Hayward said the news, announced on Wednesday, was “yet another blow to an already challenged workforce and our economy”.

He added the ministry would work with the Bermuda Industrial Union and its hotel division to make sure redundancy payouts were fairly calculated.

He added that staff who hit financial troubles would be helped to get on to support programmes. Mr Hayward said the work categories and number of years' experience of staff would be tallied to connect them with jobs “in other sectors of hospitality or in other industries that interest them”.

Mr Hayward said the ministry would also examine “all hospitality work permit applications in identified occupational categories” to ensure that unemployed Bermudians got considered first.

The mass redundancy on October 23 of up to 750 employees, about 500 of them Bermudian, will allow for 18 months of renovations at the resort, which was mostly closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Hayward said the hotel's remaining work permit holders should settle their affairs as no requests to live on the island to seek new jobs would be granted.

He added that employers were required to pay for the repatriation of workers.

Mr Hayward was asked earlier yesterday if the opening of the St Regis hotel in St George's, expected next year, could provide jobs for unemployed Fairmont Southampton staff.

He said: “Certainly, a natural transition would be to ensure that as much of the displaced hotel workers take up employment in the newly opened establishment.”

He added that the closure could have a knock-on effect on the island's already battered economy, but the full extent was not yet known.

Mr Hayward said: “Those supply chains that service the hotel will be interrupted.

“Those persons who provide goods and services will see a contraction in terms of their business.

“Certainly for wholesalers we will see a contraction in their activity because they are not feeding thousands of additional tourists.

“Do we have a total value of what that direct and induced impact would be at this time? No, we don't.”

He added that about 70 per cent of hotel workers on the island were Bermudian.

Mixed response: the Fairmont Southamton Princess, hard-hit by the Covid-19 crisis, is to get a $100 million refurbishment, with a projected reopening in April 2022. About 750 people, with roughly 500 of them Bermudian, will become redundant next month (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Labour minister Jason Hayward (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 25, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated September 25, 2020 at 2:05 pm)

Hayward vows to help laid-off hotel workers

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