Bahamian newspapers are reporting that there is a possibility of a labor strike at the Sandals’ Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island. Seemingly at the heart of this labor dispute is Sandals alleged actions of firing three pregnant maids and workers who join the union. Trade Union Congress president, Obie Ferguson, stated 90% of the resort’s workers took part in a strike vote last week. Sandals Resort’s public relations officer Stephen Hector claims the number is lower and disputes that the company knew the maids were pregnant when they were terminated. Sandals subsequently offered to hire back the maids.
In an effort to downplay the image of a “disgruntled and downtrodden workforce” portrayed by the union, Sandals claims only 187 employees or 25% percent of the workforce voted for the strike. Mr. Hector also went on records as saying, “we are astonished by the union’s ongoing efforts to destabilize the resort’s 720-strong workforce and undermine our efforts to drive tourism in the Bahamas.” From this statement, on can come away with the opinion that Sandals is just fine with 25% of its staff being dissatisfied with the way they are being treated as long as the company keeps bringing tourists to the Bahamas. However, Mr. Hector does state, “At Sandals, we do not shy away from our responsibilities and we recognize that the 187 team members who felt compelled to vote for a strike is 187 too many. We will work hard to ensure that we offer those team members along with the workforce as a whole a comfortable and inspiring place to come to work each day.”
It is interesting to note, Sandals has decided to keep the Royal Bahamian Spa Resort open for business should the strike occur. Setting the labor dispute aside, it is unclear what, if any, impact a strike cause on American tourists’ safety and well-being. There are many questions that have yet to be answered. Will Sandals hire non-union replacement labor or operate with a reduced staff? Will Sandals employ extra security guards to protect American vacationers from any potential violence that may erupt from the strike?