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Companies refusing to do business with BEC

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

TWO local companies have refused to do business with the Bahamas Electricity Corporation because the “cash-strapped” organisation has outstanding accounts with balances in the thousands, according to BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller yesterday.

According to Mr Miller, Albury’s Supply Company – which provides BEC with automotive service parts and maintenance – last week suspended the corporation’s account until payment was made. This week he said a second company did the same.

He said the corporation was drowning in a $450m debt.

Despite BEC’s poor financial position, Mr Miller said the 1,200 people employed at the corporation were still slated to receive hefty Christmas bonuses ranging from $1,200 to $3,000.

He said the corporation was looking at a ballpark figure of around $1.3m for this year’s holiday payout. Mr Miller made the revelation as a guest on Guardian Talk Radio’s “Let’s Talk Live”.

However, Mr Miller’s candid discussion during the talk show infuriated Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard.

In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Maynard accused Mr Miller of “being childish and acting like a spoiled brat”.

This comes in the wake of continued tension between the union and Mr Miller over an industrial agreement that has not been approved. He said the BEWU was expected to visit the Department of Labour today at 11am to begin the process of obtaining a strike vote.

Meanwhile, the union remains on work to rule.

“There is no point in Mr Miller talking to me if one of my members get hurt because of him spreading people’s personal information about salaries and bonuses,” Mr Maynard said. 

Mr Miller told The Tribune: “What usually happens is we have to pay Shell for fuel before we do anything else. Each month we have to ration. It’s not that we don’t have the money but every month it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  

“I don’t think it was that much of money owed. It was in the thousands because we usually pay every five or six weeks.”

As it stands, Mr Miller said BEC pays out $48 million in salaries annually with 25 per cent of that figure allocated to overtime pay.

“BEC employees have always been the highest paid workers in this country,” he said.

“The average salary in BEC exceeds $40,000 (per year) while the average salary in the public service is around $18,000. So the first thing you look at is where can we cut costs?  Where can we make this corporation a viable entity to take the load off the backs of Bahamian people? Four thousand of whom are (without electricity) today because they cannot pay their bills,” Mr Miller said during the show.

Mr Miller added that over the last decade, BEC has paid more than $100 million in overtime fees. He said moving forward, there were plans to reduce the payout to around $500,000 per year.

On Tuesday, around 100 BEWU members demonstrated outside BEC’s main offices and got into a heated confrontation with Mr Miller as he got out of his car.

Comments

duppyVAT 8 years, 2 months ago

This is SAD .......................... a failed corporation ................ when businesses are not sure that they will get paid for their goods and services.

Meanwhile BEC is charging us exorbitant rates and the money is going down the tube to 1200 greedy employees and fuel cronies .............. and a 100K ExChmn

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proudloudandfnm 8 years, 2 months ago

Miller won't pay his many BEC bills.

Miller allows his tenant to keep an illegal connection so the tenant can "have a function".

Miller reconnects his freinds and constituents without demanding payment.

And we wonder what the problem is?

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The_Oracle 8 years, 2 months ago

Businesses aught to cut every Government Department off when they go beyond 30 or 60days! The public fund the Government in its entirety, and we are supposed to carry their dead assets also? As for "spreading peoples personal salaries and bonuses" information, you are servants of the public, and Government employees, and are subject to public scrutiny, in your conduct and renumeration. We could use a lot more of that apparently.

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asiseeit 8 years, 2 months ago

B.E.C. or Bounging Every Customer, is killing this country. I have no sympathy for the politician or the worker they are both at fault. I say just scrap the whole dam thing and start again. How can one set of workers hold an entire Nation hostage, only in The Bahamas. We need to fire the lot of them!

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asiseeit 8 years, 2 months ago

Also in what La LA land do workers get a BONUS for running a company into the ground. I do not understand how a company that is DEAD BROKE can give a bonus. OH that's right the asswads are stealing that bonus from the Bahamas taxpayer. So lets reveiw, they give us shoddy service, they run the company into the ground, we pay four times what we should be paying, they shut off our current because they are not happy, we pay them a bonus. That makes perfect sense!

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duppyVAT 8 years, 2 months ago

Only in The Bahamas!!!!!!!!! We need a privatized BEC ......... no other options. Or just run a FPL line from Miami and pay them. It 300% cheaper.

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BoopaDoop 8 years, 2 months ago

Exactly, my employer sent a notice out months ago advising staff not to expect the same bonus as last year due to reduction in company performance.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 years, 2 months ago

It's not about Miller....he's just the pawn or puppet of Christie. Christie is the one responsible for the bankruptcy of BEC and the dire financial condition of our country!

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ThisIsOurs 8 years, 2 months ago

I thought when they got their bonus last year the employees were told that they would get no bonus this year because the company was broke...

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BoopaDoop 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, they were not getting ANY bonus last year and at the last minute B.E.C. gave in to avoid protest. They were told that the bonus was the last they would receive until the corporation saw improvement.

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MaLambee 8 years, 2 months ago

BEC is over staffed and over paid. It is poorly managed and 'those in power' are not paying. Fix that and we headed towards a better place. Bahamians are quite capable of running that place if they employ the rules. Everyone should pay their electricity bill...regardless , Again, am in darkness even though I have paid my bill and I for sure that there are so many others who have electricity and have not paid a cent in years...smh

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TheMadHatter 8 years, 2 months ago

The costs at BEC are not due to worker salaries. They are due to successive governments buying OLD generators from east-block ex-Russian countries, and old generators from Austria etc. that are pieces of junk. They payout more money than ... well I don't want to have a lawsuit against me for libel -so let me be quiet.

Anyway, a serious inquiry by a reputable auditing firm of the purchase of generators over the past 20 years, I believe, would be very enlightening.

Not to mention that these old clunkers eat fuel for breakfast, for just a few sparks worth of power.

Florida utilities, on average, charged around 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity while six other Southeastern states' prices range from 9.5 cents to 10.5 cents. Here in the Bahamas we are just slightly over 40 cents per kilowatt-hour (when you include the mysterious fuel surcharge. Or is that a "Sir" charge? LOL).

This 4x factor cannot be explained just by salaries. The salaries are similar to those paid for similar work in FL, where such workers are paid very well. Of course in the Bahamas if you make 'the same' as someone in the states - it ain't really the same because everything you buy is jacked up to much much higher prices - so your spending power is greatly reduced.

Perhaps we need to all inquire with the cash register girls at the fast food restaurants making $180 a week, and supporting 5 children as to what their secret financial magic is. If a lot of us knew that, we could probably buy a Lear jet while only making $400 a week. LOL.

TheMadHatter

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concerned799 8 years, 2 months ago

BEC needs to be privatized ASAP.

Social ownership has in the case of the Bahamas, simply not worked out. No sane person can argue the opposite.

Therefore any discussion of BEC that does not involve a real privitization of 100% of the company is not a productive discussion to solving things.

Buying new generators, labour agreements etc. all need to be left to the new owner, whoever this is.

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realfreethinker 8 years, 2 months ago

I agree It must be a total separation from the government involvement.

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