LABOUR Minister Dion Foulkes yesterday denied rumours that 75 employees were directly terminated at the Grand Bahama Shipyard earlier this week.
According to Mr Foulkes, who spoke to reporters outside of the Office of the Prime Minister on Tuesday before heading into a Cabinet meeting, a company sub-contracted by the Grand Bahama Shipyard was released from its agreement with the property and as a result, it was unclear if the employees of that company were ultimately redeployed to other areas.
Mr Foulkes said the company, which he didn’t name, had a total of 75 employees operating at the shipyard on a day-to-day basis.
The Tribune understands the company is Clear Blue Maritime Agency.
“We are trying to ascertain from that contracting company whether those 75 persons are still working for that company and whether they have been redeployed on to other jobs,” Mr Foulkes said.
“But it is not true that the shipyard terminated 75 persons. I want to make that clear.”
Mr Foulkes said he was unsure if the Grand Bahama Shipyard had already hired replacements, but said the company has given notice that it is seeking to hire trained Bahamians to fill a number of vacant positions.
He stated: “Not only (persons from) Grand Bahama, but anywhere — New Providence, Abaco, Long Island, Cat Island — if you have skills, especially in the technical areas, they are anxious to employ you.”
Asked if that meant the shipyard was attempting to fill the vacancies left by the departure of that unnamed company, Mr Foulkes was unable to say, but contended that this line of thinking could be concluded based on the recent actions taken.
The Grand Bahama Shipyard plays an integral role in the growth of that island’s economy.
Last month, Cabinet ministers and senators toured the shipyard in their first official visit since the new administration took office in May.
They met with company executives in a closed meeting about plans at the shipyard and were then given a tour of the facility.
State Minister for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson at the time said the visit acted as a first step in a renewed relationship between the government and operators of that facility.
Mr Thompson said the government wanted to ensure Bahamians knew the goods and services required by the shipyard, and understand how they can expand their current business operation so all parties could benefit.
The senator added that the government would continue to work with the shipyard on its apprenticeship programme.
Mr Thompson revealed that more than 600 Bahamians were working at the shipyard in both permanent and contracted ventures.