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Survey points to key role of union

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

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Barbadians employed by all-inclusive hotels here are better off than their counterparts in Kenya and Tenerife, with most of them happy with their “overall remuneration” and the majority satisfied with their jobs.
That’s what they told British ethical tourism charity Tourism Concern in a recent survey, which also highlighted the influential role the trade union movement played in securing better deals for local hotel workers.
Thirteen Barbados hotels, with a combined 86 respondents, took part in the survey that examined the impact all-inclusive hotels had on working conditions and labour rights. This included six all-inclusive properties.
According to the research report, most all-inclusive hotel workers here had no problem with their pay. “Wages quoted by respondents from Barbados varied from $1 500 to over $2 000 per month, approximately twice the minimum wage of $800 although less than the median wage of $5 000. Most respondents felt levels of pay were roughly equivalent with comparable jobs. As in the other countries, tips in all inclusive hotels in Barbados are low. Whilst tips in other types of hotels vary, they can be over $100 a week, particularly in higher starred hotels,” the report said.
“In Barbados there is a ten per cent service charge which is shared by employees according to a points system agreed between the Barbados Workers’ Union and employers. Workers in Barbados were the most satisfied with their overall remuneration.”
The survey also said that survey respondents from the island “showed the highest levels of job satisfaction overall, and fewer responded that they would like to change jobs than in the other countries”.
“There were somewhat more dissatisfied workers in the all-inclusive hotels which interviews and focus groups suggest could be related to greater workload due to many guests remaining in the hotel all day. The fact that one or two individual hotels showed particularly high levels of satisfaction, whilst employees in others complained about how management treat staff, demonstrates the importance of individual management style.”
Another significant difference Tourism Concern found related to the involvement and influence of trade unions representing hotel workers, and the role of the Social Partnership.
“The tripartite Social Partnership in Barbados (between Government, unions – including the Barbados Workers Union who represent hotel workers – and employers), has facilitated the signing of a number of protocols addressing social and economic problems, and workers’ rights have been enshrined in law,” the report observed.
“It is clear that, despite sometimes being problematic, the process has improved working conditions for workers in general. A lot of the significant progress for hotel workers has been negotiated by the Barbados Workers’ Union, via collective bargaining, against this backdrop.”
It also pointed out, however, that “the seasonal nature of tourism means that jobs in the industry are not secure”, something that “is particularly exacerbated by short-term contracts by which hotels create a flexible workforce”. (SC)