June 11, 2004
More problems at Cotton House

Workers at Cotton House on the luxury resort Grenadine island of Mustique have been complaining about working conditions.
Reliable sources told SEARCHLIGHT that while normally, the Cotton House would close every year for a period of two months, this year the hotel has closed for six months. The hotel doors, they say, have been closed since May 22 and are due to reopen on December 15.{{more}}
The workers said management has taken the decision to pay them 50 per cent of their salaries for the first four months during the period they’ll be out of a job, but that leaves an additional two months for which they will not be paid.
Some employees of the hotel are also complaining about not receiving payment for overtime.
They also complained that expatriates employed at the hotel receive food allowances while the locals do not. The sources told SEARCHLIGHT they’re not satisfied that foreign workers receive up to US$500 for food allowance per month which is said to be 85 per cent more than the basic salary of local staff.
The workers also expressed discontentment that they have to train expatriates for supervisory and management positions that the locals are not allowed to have.
“We train them in areas of food and beverage, spa, even the Deputy Manager was trained by a local girl for the job, yet I hate to say, this because of our skin colour we’re not allowed to hold any position,” one source said.
The workers also mentioned that when they complain to management that they are breaching their contracts and the laws of the country “they tell us we are working under the laws of the company and it’s either we comply by the rules or you go”.
The workers also complained that male and female have to use the same bathroom.
“Sometimes a female might be bathing and a male will just enter and said sorry. We don’t know if that’s an accident or if that was intentional,” a source said.
The workers claim that because no Human Resource Management is present or active at the Cotton House Hotel there has been “unforeseen shortcomings such as Wage-Disparities ad-hoc disproportionate allocating of salaries in-lieu of set salary scale for entry level staff Supervisors and Members of Management of Vincentian Citizenship”.
However when SEARCHLIGHT contacted management the response was that the workers’ complaints are unwarranted.
SEARCHLIGHT has spoken to one Evan Simmons who identified himself as the manager of the hotel. Simmons described the accusations as ridiculous.
In relation to staff working overtime, he said they are giving days off which make up for the time they have given. He refuted the claims of locals having to train his management team.
The hotel manager explained to SEARCHLIGHT that currently, while the hotel is closed, half the staff is kept on the job and they are very happy. He said the others will be paid 50 per cent of their salaries for the first few months they’ll be out of work and an additional 25 per cent when they return.
“The hotel is being more than generous,” said Simmons.{{more}}
“If we are so bad why others are trying to steal our staff,” Simmons countered, as he described his Vincentian employees as “the best.”
He said, if the hotel had severed the contracts of the workers, they would have gone home with next to nothing.