DNA Leader Branville McCartney
By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEMOCRATIC National Alliance Leader Branville McCartney yesterday rejected the government’s clarification that it will not interfere with the Bahamas Telecommunication Company’s plans to offer voluntary separation packages to hundreds of employees.
Mr McCartney said recent comments “finally reveal the duplicity and dishonesty” of the Christie administration, and questioned whether or not the government could be “trusted” to ensuring BTC’s “seamless transition into a liberalized environment.”
Mr McCartney’s comments come just days after Mr Davis suggested that Cable and Wireless Communications was responsible for offering voluntary separation packages to 150 to 250 workers to leave the company before the end of March, in preparation for the liberalisation of the mobile sector.
Labour Minister Shane Gibson had previously told The Tribune that there is nothing the Christie Administration can do to prevent the impending loss of workers from the company in March.
Nonetheless, Prime Minister Perry Christie told The Tribune last week that he would be meeting with BTC CEO Leon Williams on the matter.
In a press statement yesterday, Mr McCartney said: “In the wake of the PM’s announcement regarding the future of the cellular mobile market, employees at BTC have again expressed concerns about their job security. In fact, leaders of the unions representing those workers have called for intervention on the part of the company’s equal shareholder.
“When questioned about the issue though, (Mr Davis) asserted that the government could have little or no say in the affairs of BTC: a private company. Whether or not he meant to do so intentionally, the DPM in comments to the media finally revealed the duplicity and dishonesty of this administration.”
He said: “Already, there seems to be some discrepancy over who will own the majority stake in the new entity. Mr Christie has pledged that Bahamian investors will eventually become majority owners of the company, but how can the public be sure that that process will be transparent and open? How can we be sure that the government has not already secretly secured its own group of investors and if so, who are those individuals?”
In an earlier interview, Mr Gibson told The Tribune that BTC wanted to lay off almost 200 persons late last year, but the government saved those jobs. However, he said there is nothing the Christie administration can do now to prevent the impending loss of workers from the company in March.
Last week, Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) president Bernard Evans confirmed that the union had filed an application at the Ministry of Labour for a strike vote.
The application was filed after some workers in New Providence and Grand Bahama staged reported sick outs in protest of the company’s plans.
The Mall at Marathon store was forced to close on Thursday when workers did not show up for work, with reports of a similar occurrence at a BTC store in Grand Bahama.
Several other stores closed on Thursday, including locations in Eleuthera, Cat Island, Exuma and Andros.
Mr Evans said the impending cuts were shocking, adding that employees were distraught over the way the company is handling the move.