Union to investigate abrupt closure of Tower

The Clerical and Com-mercial Workers Union (CCWU) is to launch an investigation into the abrupt closure of the Hotel Tower which has left dozens of its members without pay.

“The union said they going Tuesday to speak and set out an investigation. They tell us to be there at the Hotel also…we hope we hear something about our money because for all these years to go to waste isn’t easy,” an employee of the hotel told Stabroek News yesterday.

Last Friday the hotel abruptly closed.

Nonpayment of wages coupled with the brusque termination of their services saw employees of the landmark Georgetown hotel on Main Street staging vocal protests on Friday and Saturday outside their place of work.

Tower, which has struggled for business in recent years, had been on the market since March but there have apparently been no takers and mounting bills saw power to the hotel being cut last week.

Its last known owners are West Demerara businessman Salim Azeez, US-based businessman James Manbahal, Varendra Shiwratan and Bharti Persaud Misir. The owners have not been available to the media.

Efforts by Stabroek News to contact the management of the hotel have been futile. This newspaper was told on Friday that the General Manager of the Hotel, Mario Deganmarco, had locked himself in one of the hotel rooms and was waiting until the staff had left as he was unwilling to face them. Yesterday, the entity remained closed and the Tower boutique which was filled with clothing on display last Friday was empty with even the mannequins gone.

The main entrance was tightly shut and the side entrance had huge padlocks on it. The area where taxi drivers would normally park was also clear.

About 30 employees, mostly female, vented their anger and frustration on Friday after they were told through an anonymous phone call that letters were at the front counter for them. They said when they collected the letter it stated that Friday was the last day of work for them as the hotel was closing.

“Effective the 24th May 2014 ALL STAFF will be temporarily laid off until operating conditions are made safe to continue business operations,” stated an excerpt of the letter received by the employees.

Some of the staff have not been paid for over five months but because they did not want to lose severance benefits stayed on working minus wages. Others have been helped by some hotel guests who learning of the situation gave financial or other contributions.

The staff also informed that the Guyana Power and Light Inc had cut power to the building for nonpayment and this had caused guests to leave.

Hotel Tower first opened its doors in 1866 on the site of the present Guyana Post Office. In 1910, it was re-sited to its present location under expatriate ownership.

In 1946, the property was acquired by a Guyanese/ Barbadian family, the Humphreys, along with 50 other shareholders and re-named Hotel Tower Ltd.

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