Layoffs coming with management change at Harrison’s Cave

When Jamaican company Chukka Caribbean Adventures takes over management of Harrison’s Cave in the next two months, some workers will be without jobs.

That was confirmed by Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Delcia Burke, who told Barbados TODAY that while the union had been informed some workers would get back their jobs, some posts would be abolished.

Her comments follow yesterday’s announcement by Caves of Barbados Ltd (CBL), that Barbados’ premier attraction will be managed by Chukka Caribbean Adventures (Barbados) Ltd from December 1, 2020.

CBL confirmed that Chukka, Jamaica’s largest nature adventure tour operator, was chosen from four bids.

The NUPW represents the vast majority of workers at Harrison’s Cave.

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While acknowledging that the union had been informed months in advance of the planned takeover, Burke said she had been under the impression that all the workers would have been able to retain their jobs.

“We and the workers would have been told long before COVID that that was what was going to happen and that they were going to be taking over the cave and running the cave. We expected a smooth transition, but we are now being told that not all of the jobs are going to be filled. What I am understanding is that some of those places will not be filled, so that while we expected every member of staff to have a fair shot at getting their job back, it appears as though some of these posts will not be available,” Burke said.

“They will all be paid out, made redundant, but we were told that they would have been able to reapply to fill the positions.”

The NUPW general secretary said some employees had already been laid off because the cave had not reopened following the COVID-19 lockdown.

She said only a few employees had been going to work.

“Only administrative and security staff were at work because there was nobody coming in to go to the cave, because of the protocols. Plus, we weren’t really having that many tourists and the cave was really financed by tourists coming in and schoolchildren, and the schools were closed and the borders were closed,” Burke said.

She explained that the NUPW would be assisting those workers in any way possible.

“The process has not started but what we are planning to do is to assist the workers with any CVs or interviewing tips and that sort of thing, and help them wherever possible to fill the places,” she said.

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