Dianne Kiko enjoyed waking up early, getting ready and going to work. It was a routine she loved, knowing she has a job. She used to work at the Heritage Park Hotel.
Today she is one of the many Solomon Islanders laid off from work, due to the impact of COVID-19.
Heritage Park is a four star Hotel in Honiara. It is one of the most popular hotels in Honiara.
But since the COVID-19 pandemic, it has suffered a major blow to its services. Almost a 100 staff were made to stand down with the majority being women. Dianne was one of them.
“It is very challenging waking up every morning without having your normal routine as an employed worker. Life seems dim because I need money everyday to sustain my livelihood”, Dianne said.
She said having a stable income was something she took for granted, the assurance that one will have a fortnight pay.
Her hopes were shattered when one day she went to work, only to find out that her employer was scaling down staff due to loss of business.
“I now start using my savings to support myself each day. I will not be able to have money if the threat of coronavirus continues”, she said.
Heritage Park Hotel was one of the first to come out into the media spotlight with its grim outlook. The Hotel’s General Manager, Mr Sanjay Bhargava is estimating approximately SBD3.2 million business loss as a result of COVID-19.
Bhargava told the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry, “Business has come to a grinding halt” and that they will be laying off workers.
About 90 staff were laid off that time.
Meanwhile Ms. Kiko said she just cannot sit back and wait for the pandemic to be over.
“I bake cakes as a way of making money to support my family and myself”, she said.
She said despite having this income earning activity on the sideline, she still hopes for the day she can get a full time job.
The same sentiments were shared by her colleague, Steve Alabae.
Steve has worked at the Heritage Park Hotel for quite a while and is accustomed to getting a fortnight salary.
Now he is finding life challenging without full time employment.
“This is my first time experiencing such a leave”.
Like Dianne, Steve was also laid off indefinitely. His only hope of resuming work is when this pandemic is over and it is business as usual for his employer.
“My family depends on me and the work I do. I only have a few dollars left. I will not be able to support my family if the threat of COVID-19 continues”, he said.
For Heritage Park Hotel, Sanjay Bhargava said as the situation starts to normalize, staff will be recalled gradually.
“We have no intention of laying off anyone permanently from the lot who have been stood down”, Bhargava told SICCI.
He said this situation started with the measles entry restrictions late last year and earlier this year and the trend of booking postponement and now cancellations worsen when the COVID-19 measures were enforced.
For Steve and Dianne like other Solomon Islanders being stood down from work, this is an unfortunate situation.
There is some hope, with the Prime Minister recently launching the governments economic stimulus plan. Tourism is featured strongly, how that will help those that have been laid off work is yet to be seen.