Govt ‘don’t seem willing to do the right thing’ Ocean View staff
Changes by Board of Trustees of Golf Courses means four men appealing for help
By Gareth Finighan
Staff at a Government-run golf course have gone without pension benefits, vacation pay or sick pay for almost two years.
And the four workers at the Ocean View Golf Course in Devonshire are now appealing to the facility’s new board of trustees to improve their working conditions.
The staff members — two groundsmen, a golf shop assistant and a general assistant — were previously employed at the course through the To A Tee firm, which had a concession to part-operate the facility.
Government cancelled that arrangement in 2011, but kept the staff on with assurances that they would receive the same benefits they had enjoyed under their former employer — which included a pension scheme, and holiday and sickness pay.
But in May 2011, the Board of Trustees of Golf Courses, which is appointed by Government to run Bermuda’s two public courses, notified the four men that they would be working under new terms as “temporary staff” — even though they all work full-time and have almost 30 years of experience at the facility between them.
A $5-per-hour pay cut was immediately implemented and pension contributions were discontinued. The men were also told that they would no longer be entitled to vacation pay or pay for time taken off through illness.
“We’re being treated like slaves — it’s a disgrace,” one staff member, who asked not to be named, told
The Royal Gazette.
“When we were first told about this, we were promised that when the Board took over the running of the courses, they would keep us on and grandfather all our benefits.
“Then, just two months later they came back and said they had changed their minds and that we were now ‘new hires’. They basically dictated our terms. The Bermuda Industrial Union got involved on our behalf at one point and we’ve tried to have meetings but never get any answers.
“But this thing has been going on for two years now. That’s 20-odd public holidays that we’ve all worked without getting anything in lieu, not to mention that none of us can afford to take time off work for a holiday or because of illness.
“The ironic thing is, we have Government — under both the Progressive Labour Party and One Bermuda Alliance — telling employers that they must obey the laws and pay their contributions, yet they don’t seem willing to do the right thing with their own workers.”
Under the 2000 Employment Act, companies must provide a mandatory ten days of paid vacation and eight days of paid sick leave a year to staff employed for at least a year.
Employers are also obligated by law to set up pension plans for staff.
Last night a Government spokesman acknowledged there was “an outstanding matter” involving a staff dispute at the course and that the new board of trustees, which was appointed just last month, was now working to address the issue.
“The current statutory board of trustees of the golf course appointments were promulgated on March 8, 2013 through the Bermuda Government official notices and their initial meeting was convened on March 20, 2013,” the spokesman said.
“The outstanding matter concerning the golf course staff is being reviewed with the objective of having the matter resolved in an expeditious manner.
“The Ministry of Tourism Development and Transport is confident that the new board of trustees will satisfactorily resolve and bring closure to this matter, and while the matter is under review it would be inappropriate to provide any further comments.”
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