Pay hike for hotel workers still on the cards

The long wait by hotel workers for a pay increase should soon be over.

In addition, the Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Sue Springer, has promised tourism business interests that the association was working diligently to resolve a number of outstanding issues, including adding more items to the list for Government concessions.

Addressing the BHTA’s first 2016 quarterly general meeting on Wednesday, Springer said there were some terms and conditions yet to be agreed on in relation to outstanding wage increases for hotel workers.

Last December, she had announced that the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the BHTA had settled on an eight per cent increase in wages for industry employees after a year of negotiations.

That deal is retroactive to December 15, 2014.

“There are a number of terms and conditions that are still outstanding, and we have had one meeting so far and there will be another meeting in March to finalize this,” said Springer.

In relation to the concessions on food and beverages for the hotel sector, she said the BHTA continued to work closely with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) and the Ministry of Tourism in a bid to resolve some delays.

Springer reported that while most of the issues regarding alcohol had been “sorted out”, efforts to add protein to the list were “moving slowly”.

She announced she was scheduled to meet next week with Stuart Layne, the chief executive officer of the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc., “with regard to additional items that we should be able to announce in about a week’s time”.

“We are meeting regularly with the Revenue Commissioner at the BRA, Ms. [Margaret] Sivers. We meet every quarter and a meeting is coming up also in the month of March,” reported Springer.

“A tutorial for the tourism sector is going to be carried out that will include also the Customs officers and brokers so that there will be a clear guideline of everything that has to be done. And you can basically tick the boxes and everything will move forward smoothly once we get this situation sorted out with everybody on the same page,” she said.

Springer said some hoteliers were also having some issues with import restrictions.

“For example, if a restaurant imports a counter fridge and then three months later wants to import a standing fridge, they are being told they can’t do that. So we are now working out how this can be dealt with,” Springer explained.

“One of the suggestions is that we would do a listing of the different types of equipment that are needed so that there can be a greater understanding on both sides. I am working assiduously on this.”

The senior tourism executive also reported that discussions were continuing with the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) to secure a reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT) for direct tourism services (DTS).

Springer said the BHTA was working closely with car rental companies to put forward a proposal to Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy in order to request that they be brought under the Ministry of Tourism instead of the Ministry of Transport and Works.

“The car rental companies, probably 85 or 90 per cent of their business is through tourism, and therefore it will make more sense for them to be brought into the fold of tourism. A paper is actually being dealt with regarding that,” the BHTA CEO said. (MM)

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