Premier Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced in the House of Assembly on 25 January that he and other members of a delegation to Virgin Gorda led by him had candid, engaging and constructive discussions with the staff of Rosewood Little Dix. These discussions galvanized Government into further action to assist the staff.
Days ago the management of Rosewood Little Dix announced that the facility was going to close for 18 months. Immediately after the announcement concerns about the more than 300 staff were echoed.
In his statement to the House of Assembly Premier Smith stated that Government intends to set up a working group which will be chaired by the Junior Minister for Tourism, Honourable Archibald Christian and which will report directly to him to assist the staff.
“The Group which will comprise senior managers from the relevant ministries, as well as the Board of Tourism will be responsible for advising me on all aspects of this matter (employment, development, social, fiscal and economic issues) as we seek to manage and mitigate the implications of the interim closure,” Hon. Smith mentioned.
The BVI Leader also stated plans to put in place a “Help Desk” which will provide personal assistance to all affected employees. “The desk will be my ‘eyes and ears in the air and feet on the ground’ in Virgin Gorda, serving primarily as liaison between the workers and the Government. It will in conjunction with the Labour Department help to coordinate opportunities that arise for new employment as well as handle other queries and concerns,” Hon. Smith stated.
Additionally, the Premier announced that he has tasked the Labour and Immigration Departments with ensuring that special assistance is provided to affected employees both in the processing of permits and transfers as well as in immigration time. Each Department, he said, is dedicating personnel specifically to handle and support the affected employees.
Hon. Smith also tasked the Labour Ministry with working closely with the management of Little Dix Bay to ensure that all the employees are treated fairly and receive their respective benefits. He also tasked the Premier’s Office with coordinating the governmental aspects of the renovation project to support the Hotel’s reopening in 18 months time.
The BVI Leader noted that he also commissioned an economic impact assessment of the Hotel’s closure, in order to be fully aware of the economic impact and to inform our wider strategy for offsetting the impact.
During a press briefing that was held on 21 January Premier Smith refuted assertions that he was given early notice that Little Dix was going to close for 18 months.
In fact, when the question was put to the BVI Leader he announced that it was just a rumor: “I am conscious that rumours are going around that I knew about the closure ahead of 14 January 2016, but ladies and gentlemen the rumours are just false and misleading. I will not entertain such erroneous…by those who are going to use this opportunity when people are hurting to gain political points. This is when all of us must unite to come with a practical solution to help our people; not Nancy stories,” Hon. Smith declared.
“As I said, the day before the closure we were informed that they were going to close in order for major renovations to the hotel to make it more competitive…So I was made aware of the closure of the hotel the day before it was made known to the staff,” the Premier explained.