By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Public Services Union President Kingsley Ferguson said yesterday he is “seriously concerned” about the number of persons being let go from the public sector, adding that the “union is not being consulted” about the lay offs.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Ferguson said he learned of most of the terminations through the press and he is concerned some might be “political”.
His comments came days after 30 people were sent home from the Department of Inland Revenue after their contracts ended. In a statement on Friday, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson said the department “has determined not to renew the contracts of 30 employees whose contracts have come to an end”.
Last month, 18 employees of the Gaming Board, including some who hoped to become permanent staff, were let go.
The Minnis administration has taken a conservative approach to public sector hiring and has not shied away from letting workers go since the May 10 general election.
Since that time, more than 100 people have been let go for various reasons, according to The Tribune’s reports.
In August, at least 27 employees of the Ministry of Tourism were let go. Fifteen people were let go that month from the Bahamas Agriculture and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) as well. The contracts of 21 workers at the National Insurance Board (NIB) were terminated in June after their agreements expired and in recent months the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) has let go at least 42 people in its bid to make its budget work.
“I am very cornered about what is going on and why the union is being kept out of the loop,” Mr Ferguson said.
“We don’t know what is happening. When persons were let go from the Gaming Board, I found out when I received a call from the press letting me know about it. I would have figured the employer would have considered it is a sensitive situation and want to have a discussion with the leader of the organisation. These people are a part of the bargaining unit and are being terminated without consultation. I am very concerned because we are in the business of ensuring persons keep their jobs and I want to know the rationale behind terminating persons. I believe at some point all the persons who were politically hired were already terminated so what is the rationale behind these set of firings and terminations. Is this also political? We need to know.”
Earlier this year, Brensil Rolle, minister of the public service and National Insurance, said between December 2016 and May 2017, the government’s payroll ballooned by $16.5 million due to the Christie administration’s hiring of new public service workers during that period.
More than 1,700 people were included in this count. According to Mr Rolle, the public service increased by 6,500 people over the last five years, during the last Christie administration.