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Scrub Island workers want Commission of Enquiry

- More workers come forward with complaints; express no confidence in Labour Department
Aggrieved workers of Scrub Island Resort have called for a Commission of Enquiry to investigate employers at Scrub Island Resort and other hotels and restaurants across the Territory and to make those findings public. Photo: VINO/File
Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Ronald F. Smith-Berkeley has repeatedly said to this news site that he is willing to listen and deal with the issues raised by the workers of Scrub Island Resort but said that he is limited if they do not come forward with formal complaints. Photo: VINO/File
Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Ronald F. Smith-Berkeley has repeatedly said to this news site that he is willing to listen and deal with the issues raised by the workers of Scrub Island Resort but said that he is limited if they do not come forward with formal complaints. Photo: VINO/File
The employees of Scrub Island Resort who came forward to this news site said they are afraid to go to the Department of Labour since they do not believe their matters would be handled professionally and in confidence. Photo: VINO/File
The employees of Scrub Island Resort who came forward to this news site said they are afraid to go to the Department of Labour since they do not believe their matters would be handled professionally and in confidence. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - A fresh set of employees of Scrub Island Resort have come forward to Virgin Islands News Online with allegations of unfair treatment by the management of the entity.

While they said it was very technical to disclose their individual situations as it would be easy for them to be fingered, they said their issues are almost identical and in a number of cases even worse than those workers who had previously made their grievances heard through this news site.

"What we come to you (VINO) is to speak for us because we are scared to go to Labour because they say one thing to your face and behind your back they skin you up," said one employee.

"I can't even give you the department I working in or the number of years I been there because is easy for them to know is me. I there and I hearing and seeing what going on with who they think were the persons who came to you. It is not easy, everybody tense, tense up there you can't slip with a word or is problems," explained another.

The workers also said they have friends and families working at a number of the other resorts/restaurants that are experiencing the same working conditions but are scared to death to speak out because of bread and butter concerns.

"What we are appealing to the government to do for us is to allow a democratic process of setting up a Commission of Enquiry to do a deep investigation of these employers and make their finding public and put it up in the House of Assembly for discussion and action," said one employee whose suggestion was supported by others.

Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour Ronald F. Smith-Berkeley has repeatedly said to this news site that he is willing to listen and deal with the issues raised by the workers of Scrub Island Resort but said that he is limited if they do not come forward with formal complaints.

"I really want to listen to them and see how best we can have this resolved. I would personally sit and talk with them once they come directly to me," Mr Smith-Berkeley had stated emphatically to Virgin Islands News Online.

One of the employees recently fired by Scrub Island Resort's management has confirmed that he has since engaged the Permanent Secretary and an investigation into his matter is ongoing.

A senior officer within the office of the Premier and Minister of Finance Dr the Honourable D. Orlando Smith had also categorised the allegations as serious and advised that the affected persons seek to have an appointment to have audience directly with the Premier. It is not clear if the workers subsequently met with the Premier.

Allegations by Workers

Allegations of poor workers' relationships, abuse of power, unjustified firing, the non-payment of gratuity and discrimination were previously made by workers of Scrub Island. This news site had been approached by more than five persons who had all expressed a high level of frustration about the management of the popular tourist entity.

Among those who had come forward was someone who was fired and others who were allegedly forced to resign under pressure. It was alleged that one of the major problems is that the management hugs most of the members of government “from the head to the Permanent Secretaries, their partners, associates and affiliates”.

Non-payment of gratuity

According to an informed member of staff, workers should be getting gratuity which has some dependency on the rate of income of the resort. It is being claimed that because of the government systems of payment for services rendered, the accounts do not give a true reflection of income to allow payments of gratuity to workers.

Another issue among the workers is that of cheap labour. One of the persons explained that management is currently on a mission to allegedly wipe the workforce of VIslanders to employ persons from other countries. "They say why take one when you can get two for the price of one,” an employee alleged. The source explained that management has allegedly been getting rid of locals who they might have been paying $10 per hour and hiring two persons who they now pay $5 per hour.

"It is abuse to the highest level and it’s just not fair," said one of the persons.

Scrub Island Resort's response to allegations

Responding to the allegations made against the management of Scrub Island, Its Managing Director (MD) Mr Martin Smith had said he is convinced that the issues taken to the media was done by disgruntled persons who were no longer with the company after being dismissed for non-performance.

Speaking on the issue of gratuity he said that a committee was recently set up to deal with the subject and has since informed members of staff on the system of payment. He said that payments have not yet started because of the recent committee’s decision on how and when payments will be made.

As it relates to the level of employment of VIslanders, Mr Smith contended that records in the Labour Department would show that they have the highest number of locals as compared to any other resort in the Territory.

He had also disputed the allegation that they have been making attempts to get rid of some people to make things cheaper as the resort has an established pay rate system which is strongly adhered to. In addition, he said Scrub Island runs advertisements all year long with Staycation packages, which do not discriminate in anyway.

34 Responses to “Scrub Island workers want Commission of Enquiry”

  • ... (13/06/2013, 08:27) Like (25) Dislike (1) Reply
    Lots of us do not have confidence in labour or this government
    • AC 360 (13/06/2013, 09:45) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
      Please don't encourage Smith-Berkley to act like he will do something. No one is buying what he's trying to sell.
  • ooooo (13/06/2013, 08:42) Like (23) Dislike (38) Reply
    we all know who the ndp government looks out for.....the rich and famous
    • @ ooooo (13/06/2013, 11:03) Like (7) Dislike (1) Reply
      You speak the truth and explan the facts so well, my hat off to you.

  • vip (13/06/2013, 08:44) Like (15) Dislike (50) Reply
    This is what ayo get for voting NDP.
    • @ vip (13/06/2013, 09:43) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      What more can you do? Absolutely nothing.

      • polo (13/06/2013, 13:22) Like (11) Dislike (26) Reply
        Tell me one good thing this Dr. Smith lead NDP admin has done that will positively impact the lives of most Virgin Islanders since they took office ???.
  • Bad for the company n marriott (13/06/2013, 10:30) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    Soon are later owners going have enough an close down so this need to speed up government need to act fast so scrub cud come off the news smh
  • born here (13/06/2013, 10:54) Like (3) Dislike (11) Reply
    these island people always complaining bout something.
    • whatever. (17/06/2013, 14:40) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      @ born here..... read my love. clearly it is VI-landers complaining that the bigger heads want to hire ex-pats for cheaper labor. Guess you missed that part of the article.
  • wise up (13/06/2013, 11:03) Like (13) Dislike (7) Reply
    i am submitting that nothing will come out of this matter becasue the NDP do not want to up-set the investors; so our citzens and residents will continue suffering in their own land(that is shameful).. yes i said it NOW you run go talk it !!!!!
    • @ Wise Up (13/06/2013, 11:32) Like (1) Dislike (5) Reply
      Your ramblings sounds like a bunch of Garbledy Gook to me
    • pat (13/06/2013, 17:25) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      I tend to agree. Don't rock the boat with a big hotel chain who has invested. there are many cases where investors (even some local investors) do not have to adhere to particular laws even when written. (parking with new construction?) There have been infractions in oil nut bay as well... unless the laws are evenly adhered to we have favoritism. This was predicted with scrub when it comes to government investigating anything. after that, THEN we can decide the merits of this case.
  • No Confidence (13/06/2013, 11:10) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    Our life boat is our labour laws and our desire to enforce them in making our political system work for us and not against us.

  • son of the soil (13/06/2013, 11:27) Like (12) Dislike (11) Reply

    We are being treated like dogs in our country while the min..... is up and down sipping champagne with these same company managers. He dont care because he himself was firing tolians same way.

  • Hmm (13/06/2013, 12:07) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply

    Labor need to work on their image ... people should not be afraid to go to labor. It is their job to serve the public and protect the rights of employees.
    And if you go to labor you shouldn't leave there feeling like they annoyed that you came there.
    • @ Hmm (13/06/2013, 13:02) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      I take your basic point a little further - The citizens must make our employees - the government - do right by us in these matters and for our children. We are way too docile and accepting of decades of crap in the work place.
  • True (13/06/2013, 12:58) Like (3) Dislike (2) Reply
    I understand the greviance side of the argument, but why should a local get paid double that of an expat doing the same job $10.00ph compared to $5.00ph
  • Fraud (13/06/2013, 13:11) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Not sure under what circumstances employees gratuities were withheld. Sounds like a huge scam and if they allowed customers to leave gratuities, or worse automatically included service charges on the bills, and failed to pay out these monies to the intended recipients then this is a case of fraud. Most people in the hospitality industry are earning minimum wage or if they're lucky, slightly higher. There wages are reliant on the gratuity. There is no required system for payment out. Not hard to put it on the books unless you have an incompetent bookkeeper. The resort management should be ashamed of themselves if they tried to steal their employees tips. Perhaps if their clientele knew this was going on there would be some boycotting. I'd suggest the employees get it out on to the travel boards. At the least Labor should send in an auditor at Scrubs cost to look at the books and how service charges are accounted for and ensure all gratuities from inception forward are paid out to the staff who earned them. That said, the BVI should prohibit the industry from automatically adding service charges and allow the choice to be up to the customer with the employee receiving the eir gratuities on a daily basis as earned.
    • wow (14/06/2013, 07:49) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      Where are you living? The gratuity scam has been going on for many years whereby staff are not getting their fair share of teh pie. Some of the hotels here in the VI are notoriuos for this practise.
  • Thinking (13/06/2013, 14:37) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply

    Why is the minister of labour hon Pickering n the acting labour commissioner mrs rhymer so silent in all these complain that I see as an urgent matter I haven't heard anything from either of them hmmmm they only putting mr Berkeley to go up front an he's only the ps n I don't understand something's not right I think every 1 shud be voicing their opinion in either way let the staff feel more comfortable that their message had been delivered the acting commissioner of labour is too silent we need a word from her too if they deal with everybody fairly things could be resolve

  • black and white (13/06/2013, 15:12) Like (8) Dislike (6) Reply
    if the managers were black all you would have been calling for them head but becaue they are white they get a pass....sad place
  • Wicked (13/06/2013, 19:07) Like (9) Dislike (0) Reply
    I'm glad that other person's are coming forward so people can see it's not a joke B and M needs to get out or country we don't need people like them here they don't have no respect for there staff
  • lane (13/06/2013, 20:26) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    sometime in life we must learn from our mistake.we went to the poll and vote for the ndp and think things would have been better in the bvi put it sure turn to be bad.
  • pinky (13/06/2013, 22:14) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply

    Where is the Min.... while all this is going on? He don't want to jeopardized his investment on the island so he is quiet!!!!!!!!!

  • for real (13/06/2013, 22:17) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    All of the major Hotels/Resorts in the Virgin Islands need to be investigated. There is so much going on in all of them. Gratuity, one major issue, employees mistreatment another issue and there is plenty, plenty more. Tourism is a painful industry to work in.
  • James Sullivan (14/06/2013, 14:19) Like (0) Dislike (2) Reply
    Come on people. Give Doctor Smith a break. Doctor Smith has nothing to gain by being the Premier or being a politician as a matter of fact. The man has a successful practice and can return to it at any point and time. Doctor Smith chose to become a politician because of his deep love for country not for personal gratification. I wish people would stop for a while and think about the sacrifices people make when they decide to enter into politics. Doctor Smith is a good man and I know he has the BVI at heart. I had the opportunity to discuss US politics with a friend and colleague of mine who is an American Citizen. He was lamenting about the current political climate in the USA and how it is so divisive. I was struck when he asked me about the political atmosphere her in the BVI. Sadly, I told him it bad and seems to be getting worse
  • Blind or deaf (14/06/2013, 17:53) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ James suvillian who mention about premier smith sut yuh blah blah mouth n go delta go put some blah blah diesel in then make an appointment to see dr. Smith well sah!!!! LABOuR MiNister n labour commissioner that's why ayo can't pass the police test then ayo cuss expats cause ayo don't know the ministers in their seated position smh their position comes with responsiblities go suck on delta gas pump idiot n stop talking nonsense
  • wondering (15/06/2013, 02:26) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    'Tourism is a hard industry to work in" - why don't you just choose a different one? As a matter a fact whoever dislike Scrub why doesn't change work place?
    In your house you have your rules - if your guest/visitor/family member/anybody choose to stay, they choose to follow your house rules. Otherwise they are free to leave and create a house with rules they want. It is so simple. Take it or leave it.
    I am sure there are employees happy to work on Scrub, I am sure there are many Belongers happy to work on Scrub. By the way Belongers would have a choice to go abroad to work. Most of them would be surprised how is the real working world.
  • Wicked (15/06/2013, 13:29) Like (1) Dislike (9) Reply
    I wonder if wondering ever worked at scrub know one don't hate scuba it's the people that running the place as management that's the problem you song so f-ing stupid

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