Nasir Uddin, a waiter in the star-rated Best Western Alliance hotel in Chattogram, usually gets a salary of Tk8,000. However, since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, he has not been paid – for the past four months.
On July 5, a total of 10 of the hotel's workers, including Nasir Uddin, staged a protest in front of the Best Western Alliance demanding their salaries.
Nasir Uddin said, "My salary is low, and I have to manage my living with this low salary. However, after the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the owner is not paying our salaries. In four months, my arrears stood at Tk32,000 altogether.
Not only the Best Western Alliance, but also the other star-rated hotels in Chattogram are struggling to pay their employees due to a fall in income amid the Covid-19 situation.
Many hoteliers have already secretly started terminating their employees. Additionally, the star-rated hotels are reducing the employee's salaries.
The star-rated hotels of Chattogram include: Radisson Blu, The Peninsula, Best Western Alliance, Hotel Agrabad, Well Park Residence, Hotel Saint Martin Limited, and The Avenue Hotel & Suites.
There are about 600 rooms in all these hotels. In usual times, 60 to 70 per cent of these rooms remain booked. However, due to the Covid-19 situation, the business of these hotels has reduced to almost zero.
Most of the customers of the star-rated hotels in Chattogram are foreigners. However, because of the outbreak of Covid-19, the arrival of foreigners has decreased substantially. International flights have yet to begin in Chattogram.
Though the hotels reopened after the end of the government-announced general holidays, the situation is not normal. Business activities are still closed due to the novel coronavirus situation.
Kamal Hossain, assistant manager of The Peninsula, told The Business Standard, "The hotel business is dull despite the end of the lockdown because people are not going anywhere unnecessarily."
Around 80 to 90 percent of their rooms were empty. There were no foreign guests while the number of domestic customers was low as well, he added.
"No commercial events are taking place as well. Therefore, due to long-term losses, we are struggling to pay the salaries of the employees and workers," Kamal said.
Mamun Ur Rahman, managing director (MD) of Best Western Alliance, told The Business Standard that they opened the hotel on February 3. And then, the novel coronavirus started to spread.
In fact, everything was closed before their business gained pace, he said.
"As a new organisation, we have been paying the salaries and allowances of the employees regularly for some time. However, later, we failed to pay them due to losses caused by Covid-19. Moreover, even after the lockdown, the business has yet to pick up the pace," said Mamun, the managing director of Best Western Alliance in Chattogram.
However, we are trying to meet the needs of the hotel staffers. Already we have cleared their dues. On July 7, we have paid the arrears of some workers, he added.
The Chattogram Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union has alleged that many hotel workers in Chattogram have already lost their jobs.
In protest, the organisation formed a human chain on June 8 to stop the termination of hotel and restaurant workers.
Mirza Abul Bashar, president of the Chattogram Hotel and Restaurant Workers' Union, said many hotel and restaurant workers had been dismissed from jobs.
"The workers did not get any compensation. For those who are still employed, the authorities are slashing their salaries. Additionally, they are not paying salaries on time," he said.