Yet Another St. Lucia Tourism Employee Cries Abuse

Hardbeatnews, CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Tues. Jan. 31, 2006: Another incident involving a hotel employee and a visitor has shaken St Lucia’s tourism industry, with a hotel employee at one of the island’s more popular resort along Reduit Beach, claiming she was forcibly stripped searched and left naked for hours inside a security booth at the hotel.

Vicky St. Pierre, a hotel employee at the Rex St Lucian Resort, says the search was ordered after US$100 allegedly went missing from a room she had cleaned.

Overwhelmed and in tears, St. Pierre proclaims her innocence and confessed that it was the first time that she had encountered such an incident and it has left her feeling humiliated.

“I have been working at Rex Resorts for about a year and a few months now and that has never happened to me before,” said St. Pierre. “I have never stolen anything in any rooms. … I told them want happened. They searched everywhere. They even searched the soap powder. They thought if I took the money I would hide it in the soap powder.”

But she said the worst part was, “They searched me … I had to take out all my clothes in front of management … I started to cry. I felt bad.”

St. Pierre has demanded an apology, a call that was echoed by her co-workers, including Brenda St. Helen, another employee at the hotel, who says she is extremely upset at the incident.

“I was so upset. We are looking for an apology. That’s not a strip club! That’s a hotel! They can’t strip her like that,” said St. Helen.

General Manager of the resort, Gerard Schraven, has admitted St. Pierre was searched but says that the search was conducted to clear her name and to prove to the guest that she had not stolen the money.

“We took her into a room with the personnel manager who is a lady and with the security officer who is a lady as well and she was asked prior to doing anything whether we could search her, (and) she said, ‘Yes no problem go ahead,’” he claimed.

He added, “She was asked to take her skirt off and she was asked to shake the top. She had a blouse on and a bra as well…and she took it off but still had her underpants on.”

Shraven said that nothing was found but asserted that St. Pierre understood that the managers wanted to help her to prove to the guest that she was innocent. The manager also claimed that in all hotels around the world, there is a search procedure and in the case of St Pierre, it gave her the opportunity to clear her name.

St Lucians expressing their opinion on the various talk shows feel St. Pierre was unfairly treated. She for her part has also vented frustration with respects to redress and is uncertain about what avenues of recourse she can pursue. But she is seeking the intervention of the Ministry of Tourism.

The ministry has, however, left the matter to the hotel management, which is a private enterprise.

The incident has raised the need for the introduction of mechanisms to deal with such cases. Last year a guest attacked another hotel worker, employed at Club St. Lucia By Splash. The male employee took the matter to court and the visitor was charged a negligible fee.

And some three weeks ago, a female shopkeeper at a boutique in the Castries Duty free Shopping Complex, claimed she was slapped repeated in the face by a cruise ship passenger who was denied a discount on an already discounted item.

Terrence Gustave, executive vice president of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, declined comment on the recent allegation saying he needs to speak to St. Pierre first. –