Workers to be laid off Jan. 5 after Signal Hill landmark sold
The Battery Hotel in St. John’s looms over the entrance to the Battery. The pending sale of the facility is expected to take place around the new year, and employees have been given layoffs that could be effective Jan. 5 if the sale goes ahead. — Telegram file photo
The president of the union that represents workers at the Battery Hotel says employees are being kept in the dark about the sale of the hotel.
As reported by CBC News Wednesday, the Signal Hill landmark has been sold after being on the market for more than two years, originally listed for $15 million.
“We’ve been notified by the manager for the Battery that they’ve given notices of termination of employment to employees,” said Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, which represents most of the 71 workers at the hotel. The layoffs are effective Jan. 5, on condition the pending sale goes ahead.
Details of the sale are scarce, including who the hotel has been sold to and what the plans are for it If a new owner plans to continue operating the hotel, it could mean some current workers could still have jobs, said Furlong, but right now things are up in the air.
“We have no idea who is purchasing, and we have no idea what the plans are. So obviously that’s somewhat disconcerting for the people who work there. Their future really is questionable at this point, because they don’t really know what options they might have come January,” Furlong said.
A Nova Scotia-born developer, Rick Butler — now based in California — bought the hotel in 2005, and originally planned to tear it down and build a 10-storey hotel.
That plan was shot down when he couldn’t get development approval. Messages left for Butler requesting comment for this story were not returned.
“When you get that piece of paper in your hands that says your employment will terminate, that gives you cause for alarm, obviously, when you don’t know one week after Christmas where your income will come from, or how you’re going to fare,” Furlong said.
“And because we don’t know the status of the transaction and the intent of the purchaser, we don’t really know what options we might have available to us.”