Clint Chan Tack
THE National Workers Union (NWU) is trying to get clarity about plans to temporarily lay off workers at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain. This was disclosed on Monday by the NWU’s education and research officer Gerry Kangalee.
Kangalee said news of the temporary lay-offs was first mentioned by the hotel’s general manager Richard Westell in a signed circular dated November 13. In that circular, Westill said the decision to implement temporary lay-offs was due to the unprecedented decline in global travel due to the covid19 pandemic, which has affected Hyatt’s operations worldwide.
He added, “While our hope remains that all of the furloughs will be temporary, we must prepare for longer-term employment losses.” Westill said the Hyatt will continue to be staffed, based on anticipated occupancy levels.”
Westill added these measures are necessary to ensure the hotel’s long term viability. Kangalee said the union received news of the layoffs from some Hyatt workers it represents. While there has never been a recognised majority trade union representing workers at the hotel, Kangalee said workers are free to join any union they wish.
He explained the NWU can advise workers it represents on some matters but it cannot negotiate a collective agreement for all of Hyatt’s employees. Kangalee said the union understands some workers should start receiving letters about their layoff on Monday. He also said the NWU was advised the Hyatt’s management would meet with the affected employees. Kangalee explained there are differences between lay-offs and retrenchment. The former, he continued, involves employees being told they will be laid off for a specific time period, before being allowed to return to work. Kangalee added this period is supposed to be three months.
He was uncertain how many workers would be affected and said the union is trying to get as much information as it can to advise the workers it represents on their next course of action.
In a statement on May 11, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian said, “Covid19 has thrown our industry into unknown territory.” He added, “While parting ways with our colleagues is excruciating, we must be sensitive to commercial realities so we can continue to fulfill our purpose of care over the long term – through this pandemic and for what lies beyond.”
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