Speaking on behalf of the workers, attorney and ATSGWTU’s consultant and advisor Nirvan Maharaj explained that a meeting was carded for September 23 between the union and hotel’s management to settle all outstanding debts. When they showed up at Bel Air, however, they were faced with a locked gate. The hotel’s owner and chairman Robert Boos had rescheduled the meeting for September 29, which caused tempers to flare, as many felt they were being taken for a ride. “We are being taken for fools. This is unacceptable,” shouted a visibly upset Dookran Butchoon, who said that his children were struggling to survive because he had nothing to fall back on.
“There is no doubt that Bel Air has treated the workers, many of whom gave over 45 years of dedicated service unfairly and with contempt today,” said Maharaj. Maharaj said though the meeting did not materialise, the process of dialogue was far from over. Admitting that the workers’ backs were now against a wall since many owed banks and were unable to pay their bills, Maharaj said the union had since taken the workers’ plight to the Industrial Court and to the Ministry of Labour because the hotel is in breach of the terms and conditions of the Collective Agreement. “We are optimistic that if this matter goes before the Industrial Court the workers will get what is due to them based on the circumstances upon which they were sent home.”