Barbados: Various businesses offer helping hand to newly retrenched workers

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(Barbadostoday.com) – The grim plight facing 149 workers abruptly sent on the breadline on Monday by their former employer Chaps Restaurant Limited has triggered an immediate response from other players across the tourism sector.

Several restaurants kept hope alive for the retrenched workers as they took to social media inviting the former employees of Cin Cin by the Sea, Primo Bar & Bistro and Hugo’s Barbados to apply for jobs.

The Reef Bar and Grill located at the Butterfly Beach Hotel at Maxwell Main Road, Oistins, Christ Church said in its notice, “ We were sorry to hear about CHAPS Restaurants closure! We may have opportunities for affected team members.”

A similar offer was extended by the Castaways Restaurant at the entrance of St Lawrence Gap, which served notice that it was seeking “all restaurant staff for hire.” It invited candidates with a genuine passion for the service industry.

ECO Lifestyle & Lodge, an oceanfront guest house located on the east coast at Tent Bay, St Joseph indicated that it had few openings for “wait/bar staff, porters, and FOH managers”.

“We would be happy to interview any employees of the Chaps Restaurants Limited,” the notice said.

Barbados TODAY reached out to the proprietors of the businesses for comment and they have promised to speak on the matter tomorrow.

An employee of one of the restaurants who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they were moved by the unfortunate circumstances facing the workers and they wanted to help.

The source said they have already received a big response to their call and they are looking forward to offering assistance wherever they can.

The move comes 24 hours after the retrenched Chap restaurant workers at a meeting summoned by the company yesterday evening did not receive any guarantees on when they would receive their severance pay

The stunned employees, some of whom were expected to start work just yesterday, lamented that they had no where to turn with mounting bills and families to support.

Efforts by Barbados TODAY to reach Chief Executive Office Joanne Pooler today via telephone were futile.

But in a statement issued this evening “to provide an additional update” Pooler did not address the outstanding monies owed to the workers but made it clear that there were “no ulterior motives” involved in the move.

“The timing of the closure was simply based on us not having money to continue to pay our suppliers,” she said.

Pooler also sought to dismissed speculation that the owner had made money, claiming that he had “lost millions of dollars” on his investment.

Pointing back to 2014 when Cin Cin and Primo (then Pisces) Restaurants were in deep financial difficulty, she said the principal owner stepped in with significant investment to allow the restaurants to remain open thus saving jobs.

“The principal owner has deep unwaivered loyalty to Barbados and genuinely wanted the best for the restaurants, the staff and the country as a whole. There are no times when a decision to close is easy, but losses were worsening and this decision was taken with the heaviest heart by the owner,” Pooler said.

On Monday, the company blamed a 2.5 per cent increase in VAT, an additional five per cent levy on restaurant bills and an “unfair” policy of granting duty free concessions to restaurants, which are attached to hotels for its closure.

While Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle said the issue of concessions was being worked on, she suggested it was not the sole reason for the closure of the restaurant.

Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds argued that the thousands saved when Government slashed corporation tax from 30 per cent to fire per cent would have benefited restaurants like Cin Cin by the Sea, Hugo’s Barbados and Primo Bar and Bistro.

But today Pooler responded saying, “ …to put it simply, a business needs to make a profit in the first instance before this reduction applies. As a business, we too, had busy restaurants but this did still did not mean they were profitable hence the rationale for such a difficult decision to close.”

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