Written by The Hon N. H. Cole Simons JP MP
Leader or the Opposition and Shadow Minister of Finance
There are two matters at play that the OBA finds disturbing. Number One – We find it very ironic and unconscionable that this Progressive Labor Party Government, a labor government, protects its own interests by burdening the 700 employees of the Fairmont Southampton with not one, not two, but three agreements that from our perspective, they may have had no choice but to sign:
- The first being: a written loan agreement;
- The second – a written Deed of Assignment agreement; and
- The third – a written Notice of Assignment agreement
These workers signed these three agreements but yet, this same Government is either unable, or unwilling to secure an agreement from Gencom Limited, which will confirm their agreement to reimburse the Government of Bermuda for the $11MM funds which were advanced to the Fairmont Southampton employees in accordance with the severance payments made under Section 23 of the Employment Act 2000 .
Who is the Government protecting? Are they protecting Gencom Limited, because of their other Bermuda based interest which takes the form of the Rosewood Tuckers Point? Are they protecting the severance payments of the 700 Fairmont Southampton employees, and their associated rights, or are they covering themselves for the recovery of the $11,000,000 voluntary payment made to the Fairmont employees?
It is a crying shame that the Burt Government is prepared to burden our employees who can least afford it, and who are likely very, very uncomfortable with the three written agreements, which assign their rights to the Government of Bermuda, forces them not to disclose the details of the Loan Agreement to their families and friends, and also forces them to allow their names to be joined in a class action suit against West End Properties Limited/ Gencom Limited. WHY?
The second item which we also find very interesting, was the fact that the Bermuda Industrial Union worked closely with the Government of Bermuda to develop these employees loan agreements, and yet there was no evidence that the Union pursued a written reimbursement agreement from Westend Properties Limited/Gencom Limited from, according to the letter issued by the Executive of the Fairmont Southampton.
In light of these developments, may I encourage the community to stay tuned to this unfortunate situation, as our tourism employees are currently bearing the weight of this unfortunate situation, especially as it involves Westend Properties Limited/Gencom Limited’s infraction of Bermuda’s Employment Act and more importantly, the possible impact on the employees. Consider this: If Gencom Limited are unable to meet its repayment obligations to the Bermuda Government, what will that mean for Bermuda’s taxpayers? Will we be made responsible to repay the $11 million dollars in a time when we can ill afford it? The answer is YES.