Englerston MP Glenys Hanna Martin.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
ENGLERSTON MP Glenys Hanna Martin yesterday questioned the terminations of about 30 employees from the Gaming Board of the Bahamas this week.
To fire the employees in “such a crude and heartless manner”, the MP said, is cause to wonder whether it is “the people’s time” or the rolling out of the red carpet for foreigners.
Her brief statement on social media site Facebook follows an ultimatum from Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kingsley Ferguson on Thursday who said the Minnis administration has been given seven days to reinstate the employees or risk facing “some action” from a united and furious union movement.
“I read the Chairman Kenyatta Gibson's statement on the mass firings at the Gaming Board,” the post on Facebook said. “Will he explain to the Bahamian people that if the persons fired have no technology background and warrants their termination what background does his aging retiree Consultant, which he just hired have?
“Is he saying the people fired are useless or in the words of his Minister are ‘non-essential?’ And why name and blame your HR person for a deliberate FNM government policy of firing people across the board? Is it not the case that the very same people he is devaluing were part of the team and caused for the transformation he speaks of?
“Are they being victimised for their contribution to this progress? To discard Bahamian professionals in such crude and heartless manner makes us wonder when they said it was the People's time who people they meant. Because now we see them roll out the red carpet for the foreigner whilst they roll the red carpet over Bahamians.”
In response to the firings, Mr Ferguson said the union was going to do what it had to do. He was backed by representatives from several other unions and the National Congress of Trade Unions (NCTUB).
Mr Gibson explained the staff reductions at the Gaming Board on Thursday afternoon.
He said: “The Gaming Board of the Bahamas recently conducted a manpower review which made it patently clear that the gaming industry in the Bahamas had in recent years transformed into a more technologically based business than had previously existed.
“The regulatory needs of the industry have become more techno-centric than labour intensive. In short, the board required the services of more technology analysts and personnel with specific technological qualifications.
“In order to properly regulate this jurisdiction, the 21st century Gaming Board will require the services of persons with professional qualifications in information technology and accounting, in order to properly and correctly regulate the industry.
“To efficiently carry out its pre-existing and current mandate, the board’s staff must be able to keep pace with the innovative and creative, avant-garde operators who populate the gaming industry of the Bahamas.
“In that vein, the board’s immediate past human resources director, Mrs Georgette Johnson, was mandated to carry out the manpower needs analysis and upon her specific recommendation, the board has immediately disengaged the services of some 30 employees.”
He said this group falls into three categories: recent new hires within the past two years; employees who are eligible for gratuity and pension; and contract workers.
“It should be noted, that during the past four years, the staff complement of the board has increased by approximately 40 per cent,” Mr Gibson’s statement added. “Unfortunately, some of those persons who have been engaged over that period and previously, are now ill-suited for the modern-day requirements of our current regulatory regime. Accordingly, best professional advice indicated that the board was severely overstaffed and that the future viability of the board as an effective regulator, with all of its regulatory obligations and responsibilities, required that changes, though stark and hard, had to be made.
“Let me say on behalf of my colleagues, that the decision taken to separate the board from these employees was a difficult and heart wrenching exercise. Nonetheless, it was a necessary one.”
He said all those who were fired were paid “equitable and fair separation packages, with each and every one of their entitlements having been dealt with in a very generous fashion.”
Mr Gibson said if any errors in separation payments were made, they would be corrected once brought to officials’ attention.