Malaysia’s Desaru resort retains all employees on full pay during pandemic
By Vincent D’Silva NEW STRAITS TIMES Sun, January 16, 2022
Staff at the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort & Spa were given new tasks during the lockdowns as the resort retained its employees on full pay. – NSTP/VINCENT D’SILVA
JOHOR BARU: Retrenchments, reduced salaries and no-pay leave were the order of the day for many businesses over the past two years, due to Covid-19 and the ensuing lockdowns.
Gloom and anxiety enveloped the marketplace as business owners and workers looked for a silver lining.
Several enterprises had to close down as they were unable to sustain losses.
Exceptional were the instances where employers kept their workers on their payroll out of compassion. This was what a resort in Desaru decided to do.
Lotus Desaru Beach Resort & Spa decided retained all their 450 employees working in various sectors at full salaries.
General manager Indra Gandhi Rengasamy Pillai said she knew it was going to be tough for the resort to keep their staff, be it locals or foreigners.
“It was not so much for the Malaysians as they have their families here and can return home as and when they like but what about the foreign employees,” she said, informing that apart from locals who make up the majority of the resort’s staff, they also employed workers from the Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India.
According to Indra, the two years of intermittent lockdowns had been a tough time for the resort.
“In bad times, we in turn, have to sympathise with them as they had worked for us all these years and I must be grateful,” she remarked.
“We did not have any guests or visitors at the resort and the place was completely deserted,” she said.
The workers comprised kitchen hands, waiters, room service staff, housekeeping staff, concierge, porters and administration staff.
She said sending them back was not the right thing to do at the time because it smacked of callousness.
“I did not want to be selfish but took sympathy on them, knew their plight and I felt their labour could be used in other roles,” she noted.
Indra gathered them for a meeting and gave each employee tasks in gardening and planting of trees and vegetables; the repair of all wooden items such as wardrobe, kitchenette and toilet cabinets. She assigned others to gate repair work, roadside curb repainting, window fixing, air-conditioner servicing, carpet and sofa washing and cleaning.
“There were some who were asked to repair and change the floor parquet at the lobby and do the room parquet varnishing,” she detailed.
She said some of the staff had become good fishermen too and were prepared to go deep-sea fishing.
The staff were happy with their new tasks as they continued to be useful in their new routine, knowing that the alternative was retrenchment and joblessness.
“I was happy to note they became skilled in their new roles assigned to them,” she said.
The staff remained faithful to their employer and are geared to help the resort flourish now that tourists are returning.
“It takes a lot of courage to push through hard times. Don’t give up. Good things are coming our way,” she said.