Three employees of the Pegasus Hotel who were told not to return to work more than a week ago without any formal communication from the hotel’s management have expressed concern about the termination of their services and benefits due to them.
Yesterday, Ceyon Boyce, Otis James and Whitfield Archer told media operatives that there was a lack of information from management and no one within the hotel seemed to know why they were told not to return to work. The men, who were poolside waiters, yesterday accused owner of the hotel Robert Badal of behaving in a dictatorial manner concerning their services. They also said that over the past three months several other workers have been dismissed without any explanation.
One local media house tried to make contact with Badal but was told that he was in a meeting. When contacted Andrea Persaud, Human Resources Officer at the hotel, said she was unaware of the full circumstances of the situation since she was just back from annual leave. However, she disclosed that the hotel was in talks with officials from the Ministry of Labour and was currently designing a severance package for the workers.
The workers were adamant that they had done nothing wrong and if the hotel wanted to terminate their services they should have been given formal notice and the benefits due to them.
Boyce, who has worked at the hotel for the past five years, said that he had no prior problems with the hotel’s management. However, on September 18, he said, he was told to go home by the poolside department manager Arvin Kalian. He claimed that he was escorted out by a security officer, who told him that he had to declare the amount of money he had on his person— the first time he was asked to do so. He said that when he enquired as why he had to leave, an internal security officer reportedly told him that Badal said he had to go home. He said he has not heard from management since then although he has made several attempts to determine his employment status. “I didn’t do anything wrong,” he maintained.
Meanwhile, James, who has been with the hotel for the past year and Archer, who has been employed there for the past 17 years, said their problems began in the wee morning hours of September 18, as they were about to leave work. As they made their way through the security check-points where their bags and persons are subject to examination, James said that he noticed a man there whom he had never seen before. The man, who did not have a security badge, allegedly said, ‘Y’all must declare y’all money to me.’ James added that he asked why, since it was not customary for them to declare their personal money.
Further, he said that to verify whether this was new procedure, he telephoned Kalian and enquired whether there was anyone checking cash at the security booth. Kalian told him no and he made a further check with the duty manager who was in charge at the time, and he too said that no one had been given that authority. As such, he and Archer left without declaring their money. The next day, they reported for duty and Kalian subsequently informed them that they had to leave and come back another day to speak to Badal. When he asked why, he was told that it resulted from his refusal to allow the man to check his money.
While they did return to see Badal, they were unable to do so and were informed by Kalian that they needed to write and submit a statement of what happened. This was done and submitted but since then they have not heard anything from the company. James said that he has called repeatedly but is no closer to understanding what is going on.
They also claimed that Badal is trying to get rid of the union at the hotel and said that he has reportedly offered the staff association $1,000 for each staff member that signs out of the union agreement. James said that while some members have signed the forms, others have held out since they see the need for the union.