Concerns at Straw Market over rotation of vendor days

By JADE RUSSELL

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

THERE have been mixed views among some vendors at the Nassau Straw Market regarding the rotation of working days since the facility was reopened last November.

Rebecca Small, acting president of the Straw Business Persons Society told The Tribune that the majority of vendors voted for the rotation work days, which allows vendors to work three days some weeks and four days other weeks.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there were protocols put in place for the vendors’ work schedule in the market. However, majority of the vendors voted for the rotative work schedule to remain, she said.

“It was financially beneficial to all of us. That’s why when we did the survey, the majority of the vendors said that they wanted to remain on the flexi days,” Ms Small said.

The vendors are divided in two groups one being group A and the other group B. Allowing the groups to come separately aided in the market being less cumbersome and fiercely competitive, Ms Small said.

She explained a survey was conducted with 231 of the downtown straw market vendors in which 220 vendors voted for the flexible working schedule to remain and 11 vendors voted to work full time for seven days.

The president said a letter from the society was sent to the Minister of Works & Utilities Alfred Sears and a copy was also sent to the Prime Minister expressing the vendors would like the rotation of workdays to remain.

A vendor who wished to remain anonymous echoed similar sentiments saying: “The way it is now everyone can make something. I’m telling the tourist $1 and someone else is saying 50 cents because they don’t want me to make a sale, it causes confusion. A lot of people including myself prefer it the way it is. We don’t have a problem paying the rent for the three or four days, work a day, and off a day.”

However, Matthew Gordon, another vendor in the market criticised not being able to work full time in the market and called on the government to change the working days guidelines.

Mr Gordon said: “How is it that the vendors only working 12 days out of the month and got to pay national insurance for the full month?” Mr Gordon stressed.

“Open the straw market, which is the root of the craft industry in The Bahamas. We are the root industry. They have our Rawson Square open with the vendors every day crowded doing their own thing and they the branch and we the root,” he added.

Mr Gordon insisted that it is difficult to make a profit when vendors aren’t allowed to work the full seven days like other workers in the downtown area.

He emphasised that the straw market is a major aspect of the craft industry in The Bahamas, however he said others who have branched off from the market are reaping benefits while others suffer.