Concerned: Single mum Leanne Cawley (front) is one of 60 employees at the Ramada Hotel who is worried that she will lose her job if a change of use application is approved by Ballina Shire Council next month.
Concerned: Single mum Leanne Cawley (front) is one of 60 employees at the Ramada Hotel who is worried that she will lose her job if a change of use application is approved by Ballina Shire Council next month. Rebecca Lollback

Jobs lost if DA approved

MORE than 60 people could lose their jobs if a controversial change of use application for the Ramada Hotel is approved by Ballina Shire Council next month.

But the workers won’t go without a fight.

Single mum Leanne Cawley, of Ballina, works front-of-house at the hotel.

She has rallied her fellow employees and, with support from the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Union (LHMU), has launched a campaign in an effort to get councillors to refuse the DA which was submitted by the developers.

If approved, 94 of theRamada’s 115 units could be used by permanent residents.

The owners of the Ramada brand, the Wyndham Hotel Group, have already threatened to pull the name if the DA gets the green light.

The council is expected to make its decision next month.

“It’s affecting everyone because we just don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ms Cawley said.

“We don’t know if we should start looking for other jobs. I’ve already been through this because I used to work for Riverside Suites, and then that got changed to residential units.

“It’s a sad situation for the 60 or so employees at the Ramada. A lot of us have kids and young families.

“We’ve got a great team, it’s a great atmosphere and we are really proud of what we do.”

Ms Cawley said losing the Ramada as a hotel would also have a detrimental effect on the Ballina economy.

She said the Ramada was now accessible to everyone, but approving the DA would change that.

“We would lose another waterfront property and the only people that would benefit would be the investors and people who could afford to buy one of the units,” Ms Cawley said.

“But we have had so much support from people in the community who want to keep the Ramada as a hotel.

“I just love working here. I don’t want to go.”

LHMU NSW secretary, Mark Boyd, said approving the DA would be senseless.

“We can’t understand why the council would approve the DA application to convert the Ramada into apartments,” he said.

“Within the first two years of its operations it had 73,000 visitors and created local jobs in the hotel and the surrounding restaurants.

“The change will not only affect staff, but businesses reliant on tourist trade in the area. The change would cost up to 60 local jobs.

“Most of the staff are single mothers and will have to get government support if they lose their jobs.

“LHMU will be running a community campaign to stop the developers’ application.

“Workers will be asking for support from local businesses and the community.”



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