BITU training hotel delegates for new challenges
BITU vice-president Rudolph Thomas (Photo: contributed)

THE Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) has completed what it calls "a dynamic training, development and educational undertaking" with worker delegates from hotels in the tourism sector.

According to vice-president of the BITU, Rudolph Thomas, the sessions were designed to address changes in the landscape of the tourism sector, as well as changes which need to be implemented to maintain harmony in industrial relations for the booming industry.

Thomas said that the discussions primarily included a cadre of delegates from the Royal Decameron Club, which has approximately 600 workers, and Caribbean and Bahia Principe hotels which have approximately 1,900 workers.

He said that the cross-entity exposure was specifically designed, as a first-step, to widen the appreciation of the workers for different environments, which includes serving a different spectrum of visitors.

"The BITU leadership believes strongly in the training of our delegates, not only in matters related to their roles and industrial relations, but in such a way that they are involved in solutions-based discussions aimed at improving what we have," said Thomas.

"The union is happy that this experience included consultations with the management of one of the hotels, in relation to policies that they intend to put in place," added Thomas.

He said the union is aware of the challenges being experienced within the industry, through a significant migration of labour to areas perceived by workers as being more financially lucrative.

He pointed out that those differences in culture and a "relaxed, unconcerned" invitation to invest in Jamaica, as well as failure to pay reasonable, liveable wages, and the absence of incentives to remain employed within the industry are among other issues.

"This is what the workers are clamouring for. This is what will keep them vested in the hotel industry and, with tourism providing more than 20 per cent of GDP, we must be prepared to provide them with incentives and a liveable wage," he insisted.

Thomas noted that local people often gain new roads, new sewerage systems, new playgrounds, bus services, etcetera, as a result of tourism. This can provide a great boost to their quality of life and is a great example of a positive social impact of tourism, he added.

He committed the BITU to continuing these interventions and "actively pursuing new vistas that can impact the shortage of hotel workers in a positive way".

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