By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
NEARLY one dozen employees at the Gaming Board were terminated on Monday, according to Bahamas Public Service Union President Kingsley Ferguson, who told The Tribune he believes the firings were both “personal and political”.
The terminations come weeks after Press Secretary Anthony Newbold confirmed 18 people were “let go” from the Gaming Board in early November.
Mr Ferguson said the Gaming Board is blatantly disregarding the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) and breaching its industrial agreement. He said when he discovered people were being let go on Monday, he went to the Gaming Board only to be told the terminations will continue “if the board feels like” doing so.
“They told me that the board will continue to fire people if they feel like it and when I asked to speak to the chairman I was told he was unavailable,” Mr Ferguson claimed.
“We don’t have an accurate count but we were told between 10 to 12 persons were let go. We are currently seeking a meeting with the chairman however he has been unreachable, even before this incident. I do not want to say too much about this because it may end up in court but we are concerned about how the persons are being selected.”
W”e were told that the exercise was only supposed to include persons who just went in right before the election or the persons nearing retirement but that is not what happened.”
Mr Ferguson said the union was not consulted when the terminations began and the bargaining agent is working to ensure this practice does not continue.
“They breached the industrial agreement and when we asked about the firings we were told they were conducting a manpower analysis. Our agreement said that any exercise that would impact positions or security of employment should be done in consultation with the union, that is clear in our agreement,” he said.
“We are doing some stuff, just wait and see.”
The Tribune attempted to contact Gaming Board Chairman Kenyatta Gibson but calls were not returned up to press time.
On Monday, Mr Ferguson said he is “seriously concerned” about the number of people being let go from the public sector, adding the “union is not being consulted” about the lay offs.
He told The Tribune he learned of most of the previous terminations over the past few months 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.”
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.