Shock as more than 150 jobs are lost – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

Log In

Reset Password
BERMUDA | RSS PODCAST

Shock as more than 150 jobs are lost

More than 150 jobs have been axed in two shock announcements that will shake Bermuda's economy.

A total of 105 jobs are to go at Citi Hedge Fund Services as it relocates to the US and Canada in a cost-cutting measure.

All staff have been offered the chance to relocate to the overseas offices or alternatively accept severance packages.

Another 46 people will lose their jobs when the 70-room Willowbank Hotel in Somerset closes its doors on November 30.

Yesterday's two announcements came just days after Bacardi International announced 13 job losses. It means more than 400 jobs have been lost in Bermuda this year after 1,423 jobs were axed last year.

Economy Minister Kim Wilson said: “The reality of the harsh economic climate cannot be ignored.

“The fact is that the economic challenges that we are facing as a country are indiscriminate. It is being felt across all sectors of our community.

“I want to assure the community that I remain steadfast and committed to seeking and implementing solutions which we are optimistic will stimulate an economic turnaround.”

Ms Wilson said she was “saddened to hear about the closure of Willowbank” as it was “one of the Island's long standing tourism icons”. She said: “Willowbank has been a wonderful tourism ambassador on behalf of Bermuda, servicing tens of thousands of guests over the past five decades. Without question, our priority of concern is for the local members of staff who have been made redundant, as I'm certain this must be a terribly distressing time for them.”

Next week Ms Wilson will join business and union leaders for an “incredibly timely” national discussion on the current economic climate. The Department of Labour and Training is now in talks with managers at Willowbank and Citigroup “to lend its assistance” and “do whatever we can that is within our resources to assist”.

Shadow Economy Minister Bob Richards said the two announcements were “bad news all round” adding: “You can't put any positive spin on news like this.”

He said Bermuda's economy would suffer from “a loss of incomes and spending” while those out of work “would join the growing line of people looking for work”.

Talking about the Citigroup, Mr Richards said: “This is not part of the global recession, There are a lot of lies going around blaming everything on the recession, but this is because Bermuda is overly expensive.

“We are losing out as a jurisdiction. This is a Bermuda-specific problem. We have become uncompetitive in the international marketplace. The company is not reducing jobs, merely moving them to be more efficient. The job losses to Bermuda are job gains for the United States and Canada”.

Mr Richards said these job losses added to the “declining trend in employment and opportunity available on our island”.

He said so many people being out of work would place a huge strain on people's reliance on financial assistance. Mr Richards added: “Government's ability to assist will be heavily constrained as they have already spent their budget with reckless spending when the economy was buoyant”.

The jobs going at Citi Hedge Fund Services are from accounting and operations within the office at Hemisphere House, Church Street. Staff were informed of the job losses yesterday and those affected are understood to include Bermudians and guest workers, as well as both new and long-serving members of staff.

Citi spokeswoman Nina Das said: “After due consideration, Citi has decided to relocate some of its functions currently being performed out of its Bermuda office to its Centre of Excellence sites in North America. This effort is being undertaken to consolidate Citi's support functions, reduce overall expenses and create operating efficiencies.”

The financial services company insists it is committed to maintaining a presence in Bermuda and has no plans to make further job cuts.

The trustees of Willowbank yesterday issued a statement saying they had “unanimously agreed” to close the hotel “for an indefinite period”.

Fernance Perry, chairman of the trustees, said: “We did not arrive at this conclusion without giving it lots of thought and discussions for a considerable period of time. The decision was not made in haste. The reason it was not done sooner was because we had always taken into considerations our valued employees and the hardship it would put on each of them.”

Willowbank, which opened in 1960, is a family-run Christian hotel, which has recently hosted the overnight training programmes of the Government Mirrors scheme and the Family Intimacy Centre.

Mr Perry said there were no plans to sell or lease the property and a small number of staff would continue to maintain the buildings. He said: “We are praying that God will give a clear vision of what Willowbank should be used for.

“We trust the closure of Willowbank will not impose any undue hardships on our staff and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the management and staff publicly for their dedicated years of service and wish them well in their future endeavours”.

Hotel manager Terri Allison said the Trustees had advised all the staff, including herself, of the closure in a meeting on Monday. She said it was “a complete shock” adding: “I believe the staff are taking it as graciously as they can”.

Tourism Minister Patrice Minors reportedly said that it was unfortunate that some hotels were feeling the downturn of the economy.

She told VSB News that she was hoping for an opportunity to chat to the hotel owners to see if Government could “help to stop them walking away”.

Shadow Tourism Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin said Willowbank's closure was proof of well-known structural problems in the hospitality industry.

She said: “Apart from the fundamental flaw in our tourism product, our thoughts are with the 46 families who will be impacted by the loss of their income resulting from Willowbank's closure, just as Christmas is approaching.

“While the reasons for the closure of Willowbank were not specifically stated, I hope that the trustees of that establishment will be able to refurbish this property and return it to a valuable inclusion in our hotel offerings in the near future, even while the government continues to stumble along without a plan.”

The discussion titled 'The Great Debate: You and the Economy” takes place at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess on Thursday at 5:30pm.

It is a discussion about the economy in terms of foreign revenue and the steps Bermuda must take and the unemployed will be asked about their job search concerns. Ms Wilson said: “We clearly see this as a national issue which can only be tackled collectively.”

Read more about the job losses and the high cost of doing business in Bermuda in today's business section on page 29.

If you are affected by the job losses at Cit Hedge Fund Services or Willowbank, phone Sirkka Huish on 278-0152 or e-mail shuish[AT]royalgazette.bm.

Willowbank Resort in Sandys Parish will be closing for good at the end of November 2011. Forty-six employees are to lose their jobs.

You must be Registered or to post comment or to vote.

Published September 30, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated September 30, 2011 at 9:21 am)

Shock as more than 150 jobs are lost

What you
Need to
Know
1. For a smooth experience with our commenting system we recommend that you use Internet Explorer 10 or higher, Firefox or Chrome Browsers. Additionally please clear both your browser's cache and cookies - How do I clear my cache and cookies?
2. Please respect the use of this community forum and its users.
3. Any poster that insults, threatens or verbally abuses another member, uses defamatory language, or deliberately disrupts discussions will be banned.
4. Users who violate the Terms of Service or any commenting rules will be banned.
5. Please stay on topic. "Trolling" to incite emotional responses and disrupt conversations will be deleted.
6. To understand further what is and isn't allowed and the actions we may take, please read our Terms of Service
7. To report breaches of the Terms of Service use the flag icon