By Shermain Bique-Charles
Former Jolly Beach Resort workers awaiting severance and outstanding salary payments are being told they could initially get just one-third of their owed money under the new agreement with hotelier, Rob Barrett.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne confirmed recently that Barrett, who already owns several major hotels in Antigua including Galley Bay Resort and the St James Club, will soon manage the Jolly Beach Resort.
Barrett is said to be investing US$10 million into the beachfront property which closed more than two years ago, leaving hundreds of people out of work.
The money is really a loan to the government to repair the hotel and rebuild some of its structures, PM Browne said.
It will also deal with compensating the resort’s former workers who are collectively owed more than EC$7 million in severance and outstanding pay.
But he disclosed this week that only a third of those payments to the workers could be made for now.
“Negotiations are ongoing. I cannot say we have a finalised deal as yet. If the deal materialises, we will make sure that part of the investment involves the payment of at least a portion of the severance for Jolly Beach workers.
“We cannot guarantee that we will pay all of the severance immediately, but I can see us paying maybe one-third and asking for some time to conclude another deal, and after that, we will pay off the full severance,” Browne said.
All this comes asthe former workers had planned on picketing the PM’s office if they received no favorable response from the government about their monies owed.
These workers met with their bargaining representative, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union, last week to discuss a way forward.
The workers expressed that they were fed up with not hearing directly from the government about their owed pay.
Just recently, the Cabinet sought to reassure them that the government still intends to honour all financial obligations to them.
Government and statutory bodies are also owed around EC$80 million by the business which has been closed since the first quarter of 2020.
Efforts to sell the property hit a snag recently after it was revealed that there is a US$15 million charge on it by a creditor.
Barrett has declined to comment on his plans for the resort.