Opinion: Bat out of hell (Simpson Bay Resorts, Royal Resorts)

POSTED: 11/27/11 10:46 AM

The court ruling in favor of the Wifol union came like a bat out of hell yesterday morning. The court decision stunned the union’s attorneys and it must also have stunned Simpson Bay Resorts and Royal Resorts attorney mr. Jairo Bloem. He quickly left the court room after the verdict was pronounced, followed by jeering Wifol-members.

But the expectation that the employees would be able to go back to work immediately soon disappeared like snow before the hot Caribbean sun. When the employees arrived in Pelican Key, general manager Jules James was nowhere to be found.

Well, that’s not entirely true. James was in parliament, right next to the courthouse, where he first attended a Central Committee meeting, and then chaired another one. He remained incommunicado for Wifol-president Theophilus Thompson. Instead of going back to work, the Wifol-members returned to their home base on the Longwall Road. In the meantime, their attorneys sent an email to their opposing counsel to inform him that the employees had reported for duty and that they are ready to roll.

What was remarkable about yesterday’s events? First of all, the absence of general manager Jules James at his resort when he was most needed there. Again his double function came back to haunt him. Or maybe James used his role in parliament to shield himself from the employees he had unceremoniously sent home on November 4.

James also did not return phone calls from Thompson, and he did not answer a text message from this newspaper. It is easier to get a reply from the vice Prime Minister than to get an answer from MP Jules James, it appears.

The resort finds itself in a bind, especially since now a family connection with another member of parliament is slowly but surely becoming an issue. The resort has a number of temp workers in its employ – not literally of course, because the temp organization is the real employer.

That temp organization is run by Tamara Leonard.

Now there is nothing against a manpower organization exploiting business opportunities – it would be unfair to say that (so we don’t).

But the picture that emerges is obviously not pretty. We do remember how Johan Leonard marched his faction leader Romain Laville back into the parliament meeting room last Thursday as if he had just been arrested. In reality, Leonard apparently strong-armed Laville into voting against an opposition-motion that sought to condemn Jules James for sending the employees at Simpson Bay Resort home.

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Laville was then maybe subdued in parliament, but he was the only UP-fraction member present when the court ruling was made public yesterday morning. Many Wifol-members still thanked him for the stand he made in parliament for them (even though he caved later under pressure).

And what does all this mean for Laville’s political future? He seems to be a wayward faction-leader – a man with heart for the people and a dissenting opinion. One would expect Laville to step down, or at least to join the independent-club currently populated by Patrick Illidge and Frans Richardson. But nothing like that seems to be on the horizon. Laville flippantly said that his political future looks as bright as ever.

We really curious to find out what exactly he meant by that remark, but we figure that we’re bound to find out sooner or later.

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