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Broke Hotel Tower plans to sell assets to pay workers

Hotel Tower Inc. is broke and promises to sell off some of its assets to pay workers wages and salaries owed to them for several weeks and months, the company said in a statement.

“Steps are being taken to liquidate assets to cover these outstanding salaries owed to employees within a month,” the company said.

Meanwhile, President of the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union (CCWU), Sherwood Clarke said he and the shop steward (union representative at the worker place) plan to meet with a director on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Asked whether the CCWU was willing to accept the proposal by Hotel Tower, he said that decision would have to be made by the workers. Clarke said a complaint has been made to the Ministry of Labour whose officials have informed the union that they have been unsuccessful in contacting management to conduct an investigation.

Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle has said that management must pay the workers or risk being sued. He has said that if the company has no cash, it would have to sell off assets to pay the workers in an agreed manner such as part-payment over a period of time.

Hotel Tower said it was forced to make arrangements for remaining guests to vacate their rooms and “close its doors for business” from May 24 because the Guyana Power and Light Inc. (GPL) disconnected electricity and there was no money to pay workers.

“In recent times, the Hotel has seen a dramatic decline in business and despite the best efforts of management; the hotel was still unable to meet certain financial obligations.

While the Hotel remained asset rich, there was insufficient liquid cash available to Management to finance the day to day operating expenses of the hotel,” the hotel said in its statement.

The decades-old hotel did not explain why it has gone in the red, but employees have accused top associates of the hotel of racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit. One employee said room rates have been reduced from more than US$200 to US$50 per night.

Management said closure of the hotel was a last resort and said it was empathetic to the employees who have families and dependents to provide. While reference was made to closure of the hotel, there was no indication whether this was permanent and the workers would be paid severance. One employee has been working there since the 1970s when he first entered as a work-study student.