For the second time this week the change of ownership of a Virgin Islands business has meant the firing of a sizeable number of workers.
A wave of bad news struck food and beverage employees of Bluebeard’s Castle Hotel on Tuesday afternoon. That’s when their union was notified that the workers are being let go under the new ownership of the hotel.
The workers are represented by the United Steelworkers Union, and International Representative Randolph Allen said Wednesday evening the poor performance of the restaurant at Bluebeard’s Castle in recent times has led the new owners to sublet it to another company.
"They have terminated 19 employees and will now lease it to a new company," Allen said. The new owners have not met the affected workers and there has been no indication whether the fired workers will be re-hired, he added.
According to Allen, the workers are being paid severance and other benefits in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, but he suggested that the terminations are not in keeping with the purpose of the years of tax exemptions the hotel has enjoyed as a beneficiary of the Industrial Development Program.
"Bluebeard’s has enjoyed benefits for 45 years," Allen said. "A new company comes in and displaces the employees in the height of the holiday season. This is not in keeping with the purpose of the IDC program whose ultimate goal is to secure employment for Virgin Islanders."
He assailed the ownership of Bluebeard’s Castle for not caring about the employees' welfare or ability to survive. "The Virgin Islands has no claim on the years that this company has enjoyed tax exemptions…when things get hard, they send home the employees."
Bluebeard's is the second major jobs setback this week. On Monday, V.I. Cement and Building Products, also an IDC beneficiary, terminated more than 40 workers under new ownership. Those workers also were represented by the Steelworkers Union. Reportedly, half have been rehired as new employees.
The union hopes it will win additional benefits for the workers under the territory’s plant closing law. However, the new company reportedly is maintaining that the changeover is not a plant closing.
The key difference between the companies that laid off workers this week is that Bluebeard’s Castle continues to enjoy IDC benefits while V.I. Cement and Building Products' tax exemption certificate expired in 1999.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here