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By Kenton X. Chance

Workers at the Buccament Bay Resort say they will, on Monday, take their grievances to the Labour Department and the Office of the Prime Minister as they continue to strike in an effort to force the management of the privately-owned company to pay outstanding wages.

On Saturday, the workers moved into a second consecutive day of protest action, their latest in several work disruptions this year to force the owners of the tourism facility to pay their wages.

“No pay?” one man was shouting while his co-workers responded “No work!” when iWitness News arrived around midmorning Saturday.

The workers say they have not been paid for the past two months and have had enough and were prepared to continue with the industrial action until something is done.

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“Are we on a plantation?” the man shouted outside the gates of the resort — his comments being a reference to plantation slavery.

“No!” his co-workers responded.

“We are here working for three months and can’t get no money. It is not fair to work and can’t get pay, is it?” he told iWitness News, saying that the protest is intended to force the resort to pay the outstanding wages.

Two workers make their point during the protest on Saturday. (IWN photo)
Two workers make their point during the protest on Saturday. (IWN photo)

He, however, told iWitness News that workers had not seen the management of the resort since the protest began on Friday.

“We don’t know what is going on so we are trying to make something … happen,” the landscape worker told iWitness News.

A man who has been working as a security guard at the resort for the past three months spoke of the difficulties of his job.

“It’s not easy; working in the night, especially when rain comes it is not easy, working hard.”

But even in the face of these challenges, he gets promises instead of the hard currency needed to sustain himself and his family.

“Everyday you come, new promises, new promises and no money. It’s hard. It’s over two months, almost three months we ain’t get any money and they keep telling us lies and lies and lies. We can’t go to the bank; we can’t go anywhere and get money because of what? You’re working at Buccament.

“It’s ridiculous and we can’t stand it anymore and we don’t need piece of our money. We need all of our money because it is ridiculous. It’s too much now.”

Workers are protesting the non-payment of wages. (IWN photo)
Workers are protesting the non-payment of wages. (IWN photo)

The man said that the management of the resort has been telling the workers that the resort will be getting $60 million and things will be OK.

“And we keep hearing that over and over again and still nothing. Same old story,” he said.

Workers had placed a trolley, a barrel and a garbage bin at the entrance to the resort and said they were not allowing any of their colleagues to go to work.

“We are blocking the resort. If you want to go to the beach, fine, because it is a public beach, but we are not allowing anybody to go on to the resort.”

He, however, said if persons want to go to work, it is up to them.

Camille Patterson, a steward at the resort, was sitting on the trolley that was blocking the entrance to the resort.

She was holding a placard saying, “Mr Ames’ health has nothing to do with our salaries! We want our money!!!”

The message on the placard was a reference to Dave Ames, manager of Harlequin Property St. Vincent, owners of the resort.

Ames is facing charges of theft and tax evasion in relation to his alleged failure to pay into the state coffers, taxes and other deductions he made from workers’ wages.

Placards on display outside the resort, on the sidelines of the protest. (IWN photo)
Placards on display outside the resort, on the sidelines of the protest. (IWN photo)

As prosecutor in Kingstown moved in on him in June, the Britain-born businessman who is a naturalised Vincentian, fled St. Vincent via speedboat and went to London.

His lawyer has since written to prosecutors saying that he cannot travel back to St. Vincent because of ill health and his trial has been postponed until Feb. 17, 2017 — the third such adjournment.

Patterson told iWitness News that she has been working at the resort for five years. She said that it has been over two years since workers are not being paid regularly.

“I work very hard and I need my money. I have rent to pay and I have my children to go to school. I don’t have [a] husband. It’s me alone. I work, so I need my money. I need my money from today go back because my landlord [is] looking for their rent.”

Patterson was opposed to the idea of the workers joining a trade union.

“Well, union is not doing nothing because, right now what we see going on all in Ottley Hall, union isn’t doing nothing to nobody, so we trying to do it on we own and see how our voice will be heard.”

The workers are protesting the non-payment of wages. (IWN photo)
The workers are protesting the non-payment of wages. (IWN photo)

Her reference to Ottley Hall was about the unionised workers there who came public about the non-payment of wages at the state-owned facility that has been leased to foreign and local “investors” at what commentators say is a give-away price of US$5,400 a month.

Those investors are now complaining that they do not have the capital needed to run the facility.

Patterson told iWitness News that the protest is just the beginning of the workers’ plans to force the resort to pay them.

“So, after this, we’re going Monday Labour Department and then we are going over to [the Financial] Complex to see how our voice could be heard on this because we’re real serious. If we don’t get we pay, we ain’t working.”

About 70 workers were at the entrance of the resort when iWitness News visited. We were reliably informed that some persons who turned up to work that morning went home after they met their colleagues striking.

At the time of publishing this article, Buccament Bay Resort media contact had not responded to an email request for comment about the developments at the resort.

Resort manager not happy to see media at her roadside meeting with protesting staff 

2 replies on “Workers to report Buccament resort to PM, Labour Department ”

  1. 1. These exploited workers are demonstrating at the wrong place — at the entrance to the resort. They plan to go to other wrong places on Monday — the Labour Dept. and the PMO. Where they really should demonstrate is in front of the PM’s residence in Kingstown and at his private home at Gorse. After all, it was the Comrade’s desperate effort to link up with this shady Ames character that is the root cause of their exploitation. But maybe they are mainly Labour people and would never do such a thing.

    2. Just checked the avaialability of villas at the resort for the prime Dec. 17-31 period and there are lots of vacancies as there are in the other hotels I just checked as well.

    Any way you slice it, this resort is doomed and the back pay owed to these poor workers will never be paid.

    Any way you serve it, we are not a tourist island.

    Any way you eat it, Argyle airport will be an economic failure.

    All of this is linked to a foolish international tourism strategy cooked up by Sir James Mitchell and now producing the poisoned meal served by Ralph Gonsalves.

  2. The comrade has given them the family dynasty version of Labour love now they are gong to him for help.

    He is the root cause of their problems he will never help them because it would be an admission on his part of his own silliness.

    I agree with David they should picket his official and private homes. They should also picket the airport when they know he is coming or going. In fact picket the airport also when they know the Buccament coach is picking up clients from the airport.

    The cruise ship berth is another prime picket location because that make the comrade sit up and take notice. Nothing will annoy him more than to picket the cruise ship area.

    The Gonsalves/Francis familly dynasty is a plutocratic abomination. They are a ‘nouveau riche’ class of wealth related individuals who have exerted influence over the political arena. The political party they control the ULP and the current ULP government permit fundraising for these politicians who rely on such income for advertising their candidacy to the voting public. In their case such donations are to engender a cronyist or patronage system by which major contributors are rewarded on a quid pro quo basis. While campaign donations need not directly affect the legislative decisions of elected representatives, the natural expectation of donors is that their needs will be served by the person to whom they donated. If not, it is in their self-interest to fund a different candidate or political organization.

    While quid pro quo agreements are generally illegal in most democracies, they are difficult to prove, short of a well-documented paper trail. A core basis of democracy being a politician’s ability to freely advocate policies which benefit his or her constituents, also makes it difficult to prove that doing so might be a crime. Even the granting of appointed positions to a well-documented contributor may not transgress the law, particularly if the appointee appears to be suitably qualified for the post.

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