Little Dix Bay workers disgruntled over retirement issues
Some workers described the issue of their retirement as a “big ugly snake” that has been awakened. According to several workers who spoke directly with Virgin Islands News Online during a visit to Virgin Gorda, yesterday January 10, 2013, there are many persons who are employed at the Little Dix Bay Resort who will be going home with an empty pocket when they would have retired.
On Wednesday 09, 2013, the management of the resort held two general staff meetings where several issues were discussed by workers, who became very uncomfortable when they were reportedly informed that starting from the end of January, persons retiring will not be receiving any retirement benefits. However, they would be allowed to work beyond the regular retirement age of 65 year old. They said that under a different management a policy was reportedly put in place that fixed the age of retirement at 65 years of age.
Noting that they do not want to lose their jobs or be seen discussing the issue with the media, they asked that their identities be kept anonymous. One said, “Persons who have worked for over 40 plus years and there are many, would be allowed to go home on their last day of work with their pay check only. Where else in the world these kind of things happen?”
According to another employee, when the resort was sold to a new company a significant amount of the workers requested their severance pay that they understood they were entitled to from the previous owners but they were reassured that the benefits would remain the same. “It is sad how the government of the BVI allow these companies to do and tread their very own people.”
Resort Manager Dwight Sandford confirmed that there were two general staff meetings held. Acknowledging that there were some issues raised by workers, he said that the company was not prepared to go public on those issues at this time. Mr. Stanford said when they would have finalized the issues under consideration they would be prepared to go public. “Because we don’t want a situation where we have a situation where workers are disgruntled." Asked to confirm if the issue of retirement payments and pension were discussed, he said there were some changes that were discussed.
Asked about the details of those changes, Stanford said, “I cannot comment at this time.” Asked if the age of retirement has been extended beyond 65 years of age, Stanford said, “Remember we are now a new management and there are a number of things we are looking at, at this time I cannot give you any definite answer.”
Virgin Islands News Online visited the Labour Department of Virgin Gorda for their take on the issue. At the time the most senior officer that was available was Labour Officer Mr Cromwell Vanterpool, who said that the issue was not officially brought to the department by any employee. “Because we have no official complaint we cannot comment or even investigate.” He did acknowledged hearing a “whisper” but insisted that unless there is something official brought to Labour’s attention they cannot and will not be compelled to act.
The issue was first brought to the attention of Virgin Islands News Online by a former employee of the resort and was later confirmed by several current workers. “I left the establishment and relocated for the purposes of continuing my educational aspirations. Upon leaving I was told by the Director of Human Resources that because I resigned I would not be entitled for any present benefits because of my age but, however, upon reaching 65 I would be receiving my pension benefits for the years I put into the company. Now I am hearing a totally different story,” he said.
He recalled that they were told at the time of the switch in ownership that they would not be laying off anyone and all their benefits would have remained the same.
“Now it appears Ms. Mars knew the ship was about to sink that's why she jump ship considering she too has already gave LDB a considerable number of years in service. It was said that retirees who are presently covered on the company health insurance will be automatically removed and as of December 2012 no retirement plan will be in place for persons retiring and workers will be allowed to work as long as they want beyond 65.”
Rosewood Little Dix Bay is said to be the single largest employer at Virgin Gorda with a staff count of some three hundred.