Employees cry foul over the retrenchment process

Hospitality: Overstaffed by about 39 employees, the Zhiwa Ling hotel in Paro last month retrenched 22 employees.

The management reasoned that even after relieving 22, the hotel was still overstaffed by about 14 employees.

This has left the retrenched employees unhappy with most of them unclear of the basis for selecting 22 among 107 employees.

The employees said that they were not even given a month’s time to vacate their posts as mandated by labour laws. They said they were informed of the management decision on December 11 and relieved the next day.

The employees were paid the full salary for December, service charges, and Nu 100,000 besides the provident fund, gratuity and other benefits.

The employees said that there were talks doing round of a retrenchment exercise for a while but they though it was rumours.

One of the retrenched said she was not happy, as she served the company for a long time. “Even if we had some issues, we should be given a second chance to rectify it,” she said. “I’ve nothing against the company or my bosses but it hasn’t been a fair process.”

Another employee said that during the meeting they were told that about 40 staff would be relieved to reduce the staff size. But the relieving order was issued to only 22 of them.

Zhiwa Ling management denied the claims of the employees and said the 22 were offered “golden handshake” instead.

Zhiwa Ling recruited staff to run the RITH hotel in Thimphu three years ago. However, the company could not take it over that left the hotel heavily overstaffed.

Given the high attrition rate in the hotel industry, the management assumed that the staff would leave over time and that the numbers would return to normal.

“After three years, Zhiwa Ling was still badly overstaffed and efficiency of the staff was going down,” Yangphel Pvt. Ltd’s CEO Karma Lotey said.

Yangphel Pvt. Ltd owns Zhiwa Ling.

To address the issue, employees were offered a special package. It was voluntary with a condition that all wishing to avail the bonus must process papers before the end of the year.

Employees who served for five years were entitled gratuity but those who were left with few months to reach five years were also provided gratuity.

On the same day, the management said 18 best performers were also identified and given a salary revision of Nu 4,500 each. The remaining 65 will receive a raise of Nu 2,500 from this month.

The management said that they did not receive any complaints throughout the entire process. “Everyone rushed to process the resignation by December 18 while our deadline was December 31,” Karma Lotey said, adding that a few employees may not have been happy with the pay raise announced in January after they left.

“As a responsible company, when we’ve to let people go, we’ve to be responsible enough to make them leave in a dignified manner,” Karma Lotey said.

However, employees claim that it was not voluntary. The management, employees said must be calling it “golden handshake” as they were given Nu 100,000.

One of the employees said they were told to process their papers by December 25 or else they wont be entitled the Nu 100,000 bonus which is why most of them had to rush.

“Although we were issued the relieving order on December 12, it was dated December 31,” he said, showing the office order.

Established about 10 years ago, Zhiwa Ling hotel is a 45 room five-star property that is fully owned by Bhutanese.

Kinga Dema