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Government to pay redundancy to ex-Fairmont Southampton staff

The Fairmont Southampton (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Redundancy payments to ex-Fairmont Southampton workers will be honoured by the Government, the finance minister promised tonight.

Curtis Dickinson said the wait for their severance packages had had a “searing impact” on about 750 staff who were laid off last month and later told they would have to wait until November 20 for their cash.

He added: “It is clear that having missed the October 23 payment deadline, these payments are in debt.

“It is unacceptable to leave the workers in the dark until November 20.”

He said the Government had an action plan to pay the former staff “directly” what they were owed.

The hotel’s new owners, Gencom, unveiled a redevelopment plan in December 2019 that involved closure of the hotel for major renovations.

Mr Dickinson added: “What no one foresaw was the interruption of the 2020 tourism season brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He said many of the staff had spent “their entire lives” in the industry and that the Government was obliged to help them.

Mr Dickinson added that the Government would step in for workers, many of whom had spent “their entire lives” in hospitality.

The hotel closed its doors on October 23 and the refurbishment is expected to take 18 months.

Mr Dickinson said: “The challenging operating environment does not remove the obligation of hotel workers to make payments to employees, as they elected to make staff redundant.

“The Bermuda Government, through the ministries of finance and labour, have been engaged with stakeholders to ensure that the hotel owners meet their obligations to the workers.”

Chris Furbert, the president of the Bermuda Industrial Union, welcomed the move.

He said: “What Government has done is taken the October 23 payment that came and went. November 20 could have come and went.

“The Government has agreed to pay it and claim the money from the hotel.”

But Mr Furbert said he “had to give credit” to the hotel for covering staff on health insurance from April to June.

*UPDATE: This article has been updated to include comments from BIU president Chris Furbert.

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Published November 10, 2020 at 10:17 am (Updated November 10, 2020 at 10:16 am)

Government to pay redundancy to ex-Fairmont Southampton staff

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