Divi Little Bay workers at the entrance of the resort on Tuesday.
PHILIPSBURG–Divi Little Bay Beach Resort workers are up in arms over management’s decision to further reduce their workweek to two days as the company moves into reconstruction phase to rebuild its facilities from the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in September.
One worker told The Daily Herald that the company had called in workers individually over the course of the past week and told them that they can either accept two days per week pay or accept being paid out from the company, in which case they will no longer be employed at the establishment. The two-day workweek is until sometime in 2018, when the resort is expected to resume its operations. Workers believe they should have at least three days’ weekly pay, not two.
While some of the workers signed on for the two days, some did not. Those who did not took their case to the Labour Department.
The workers said the Labour Department had advised them to continue showing up for work even if they are not being allowed to enter the premises. Based on this advice, the workers said they have been showing up to work daily since Monday, but they are not being allowed to enter the premises.
“We have been showing up every day peacefully” the worker said. “We understand the situation, but we are asking for just one more day.”
This is not the first time workers have been upset with the company since the passage of Hurricane Irma. The workers staged a protest at the entrance of the resort on October 12, to contest management’s move to reduce their workdays from six to three days. Divi’s Acting General Manager Thijs Scheepers said at that time that there was work for everyone and the workers would be able to resume their tasks days later.
“We have permanent and contracted workers and for us everyone is important and we want to ensure that everyone is taken care of,” Scheepers had assured. The workers said then that they had toiled arduously to clean the property following the destruction caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and as soon as they completed the cleaning, management sprang the reduced work week on them
Workers Institute for Organised Labour (WIFOL) President Theophilus Thompson said at that time also that giving the workers a shorter workweek than what is stipulated in the collective labour agreement (CLA) was in violation of the country’s labour laws and the CLA.
The CLA has provisions for an amendment to the workweek if occupancy falls below a certain level that will affect the resort’s income. However, he said this could only be done via negotiations and not solely as a decision from the company. He said at the time that WIFOL was only willing to have the workweek reduced by one day – so from six to five days.
Thompson’s position on the latest developments could not be ascertained. He promised to provide a comment, but could not be reached.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71163-divi-workers-not-happy-about-2-day-workweek