By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
GRAND Bahama MP Peter Turnquest is calling on the Grand Bahama Power Company to reconsider its decision in terminating some 20 workers at the company.
In a press release, he said: “It is with great sadness and disappointment that we learned of the loss of approximately 20 jobs at the Grand Bahama Power Company, without warning or notice we are told. Job losses that Grand Bahama and the Bahamas as a whole could ill afford as we struggle to recover from the devastating 2008 – 2011 recession, following the destructive hurricanes of 2004.”
GB Power Company has announced the termination of 19 employees as part of organisational changes in the company.
The employees were given letters of dismissal after reporting to work.
The dismissed workers received one month’s pay for each year of service, 12-weeks in lieu of notice, an additional month’s salary, and other benefits they were entitled to.
Mr Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama said: “On behalf of the residents of East Grand Bahama affected by these terminations in particular and Grand Bahamians in general, who have suffered long and patiently with continued power outages and unsustainably high electricity bills, we call upon the GBPC to reconsider their seemingly abrupt and untimely actions and try to find other ways in which to reduce cost, if in fact this is the motivation.
“When Emera was allowed to invest in Grand Bahama, it would have been on the premise and commitment that they were a successful company with the resources and expertise to upgrade the aging utility plant and to provide clean, efficient, and reliable lower energy cost,” he said.
Mr Turnquest said the Canadian energy giant had talked about a plan to provide sustainable alternative forms of energy to curtail the high cost of fuel cost and improve reliability. Instead, he claimed Emera had brought increased electricity bills, continued power outages, and successive redundancies and replacements of qualified Bahamians with expatriates.
He said: “Well, enough is enough, and we demand an explanation and proof that all that could be done, was in fact done to protect the jobs and livelihood of these Bahamian professionals.
“As shareholders in ICDU and internal and external stakeholders in Grand Bahama, we demand and deserve an explanation.”
The FNM MP said the opposition PLP party had been very critical of the Free National Movement government, which was accused of abandoning Bahamians in favour of foreigners.
“They (the PLP) promised that if elected, job losses would be stemmed and prosperity returned to Grand Bahama with Bahamians first.
“Well this is the Government’s first major test to demonstrate its commitment to the Bahamian people and Grand Bahamians in particular, that they are indeed true to their word and worthy of confidence for the next four years. It is time for them to act on behalf of these loyal and patriotic Grand Bahamians and demand their return to work.
“We call upon the Minister for Grand Bahama to represent his constituents and all Grand Bahamians, acting in defence of these workers,” the MP demanded.
Mr Turnquest also wanted to know if the Minister of Labour knew in advance about the terminations by the GBPC, and what action the government took to soften the blow on Thursday.
He wanted to know what their plan was now.
“We can ill afford these job losses on Grand Bahama and the knock-on effects they will have on an already stressed economy - GBPC do the right thing by your community,” Mr Turnquest said.