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‘Pointe - We Need A Site Headcount’

Workers at The Pointe development site.

Workers at The Pointe development site.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter 

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WITH the government unable to reveal the current ratio of Bahamian to foreign workers at The Pointe development, Bahamian Contractors Association President Leonard Sands yesterday said officials must descend on the downtown Nassau project to conduct a physical count of its workers to determine whether the Heads of Agreement is being adhered to.

In an interview with The Tribune Mr Sands said local contractors are angered to have been neglected in the construction phase of the project.

This comes as government officials have failed to give answers on The Pointe’s worker complement in response to a Tribune investigation which raised questions about whether China Construction America (CCA), the project’s developers, were following the Heads of Agreement clause when it comes to jobs.

He also slammed the Department of Labour, which last week said no physical checks have taken place at the compound since May 2017.

The Heads of Agreement between CCA and the government states 70 percent of the workers are supposed to be Bahamian and 30 per cent should be foreign.

“The Pointe looks like Baha Mar part two,” Mr Sands said, “and that wasn’t good for us. When I say Baha Mar part two I am not talking about the project and the things that happened with CCA and the investor, no. We are talking about how it was built.

“We understood at that time that there was an arrangement. This developer got the financing and the financier said ‘hey you are going to use my money this is what comes along with it including this amount of people have to be employed here and we want the project to be done like this and only our guys can do it, we got that.’

“But The Pointe development is not the same bowl of oats. We are looking at typical construction coming out of the ground, pouring reinforced concrete columns and beams and slabs and block work. That’s the stuff we do every day in the Bahamas.

“But if you look at the site, the question we have to ask is we understand there is supposed to be a labour complement of Bahamians to foreign workers, that’s not happening and I dare anyone to tell me otherwise.”

Asked how he could surmise this, Mr Sands said with access to the roof top parking garage with views of the entire site, it is clear there are not many Bahamians working there.

“So when someone says the labour mix is supposed to be 70 percent Bahamians, 30 percent foreign, well where is that represented out there?

“It is one thing to say something in the Heads of the Agreement, but it is a totally different thing to police that and enforce it and I am saying that’s not happening out there. That’s the position I am holding until someone can prove to me different.”

He claimed these concerns were raised with the Department of Labour with no satisfactory outcome.

“Yes (we have) called and notified the Labour Board but the response is we haven’t done a survey since May 2017. We are almost at May 2018 and I am saying if you’re telling me that you are comfortable about leaving a situation that people are complaining about for a year to address it, then you are not really the person in charge there.

“I am saying walk on the site and ask the person who is in charge, the superintendent or the labour relations officer and say show me your head count – native Bahamians to Chinese workers because in your Heads of Agreement it should be 70/30.

“We want them to physically go down there and demand a physical headcount. In fact, they could invite the representation of the Bahamian Contractors Association along (and) we’d gladly go. Let us help you count if it seems to be a daunting task.”

Last week, Labour Minister Dion said his department did not have any evidence CCA has broken the agreed workforce ratio outlined in the HOA with the government for The Pointe.

At the same time, Financial Services and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette conceded the government had no idea how many foreign workers were engaged on the project.

More than a week ago Tribune photographers monitored who went on to the site and with the exception of three or four Bahamians and a guard at the gates of the development, everyone else appeared to be Chinese.

Previously, this newspaper observed workers on the site in both January and February and it was a similar story. Dozens of Chinese builders walked on to the site every day from a building, which lodges the workers opposite the development, and virtually no Bahamians were anywhere to be seen.

“We don’t have any evidence of that,” Mr Foulkes said when he was asked about concerns the workforce ratio was not being adhered to last Tuesday ahead of a Cabinet meeting. “There haven’t been any complaints made concerning that.”

Earlier in the interview he said: “The prime minister is concerned about the ratio but it is an agreement that we met in place that the former government signed off on, 30 (percent) to 70 percent. We are uncomfortable with that ratio but we have to honour the arrangement that the previous government made.”

Asked about the concerns, Mr Symonette said while the matter is one for the Department of Labour, he was not aware of any excessive amount of work permits being issued by immigration officials to CCA or The Pointe. He said it was something officials would look into.

Mr Symonette said he did not know how many foreign workers were on the site, explaining the current computer system does not allow officials to work out those figures.

However, he said by July, the Department of Immigration’s new system should be functional and the numbers would be readily available.

Comments

DDK 5 months, 1 week ago

Sure looks like it! The Americans like military bases. The Chinese like to build. If we must pick one........

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Well_mudda_take_sic 5 months, 1 week ago

If left with absolutely no alternative, I would pick the one that does not consider us to be the bottom rung of humanity because of the dark colour of our skin.

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truetruebahamian 5 months, 1 week ago

Neither is particularly interested in skin colour, just acquisition positions of influence and proprietary control.

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truetruebahamian 5 months, 1 week ago

Neither is particularly interested in skin colour, just acquisition of positions of influence and proprietary control..

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bogart 5 months, 1 week ago

Agreed a head count plus their NIB card and Drivers licence need checking.....cause one a dem looks like the Late great Famous musician from Jamaica.?....could be Jamaican.?.and a nodder one looks like Mr. Chea from down Carmichael road....not to mention the chinese from luckys....some could be Bahamian cause chinese been in the Bahamas from 1879 or before if you look at dem pirate movie.....then again some people say native lucayan, arawak all walk some bridge an come to Bahamas before everybody else.......

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Craig 5 months, 1 week ago

If the good president of the Contractors Association was so concerned with the ratio of Bahamian to foreign workers at The Pointe, where was his voice or the BCA's for that matter prior to the Tribune article last week? As i can recall from the Tribune article that exposed the issue, this was as a result of their own investigation, not the BCA. This guy is only concerned about being in the newspaper and public exposure at every opportunity. His last opportunity to be in the press was a debacle as a result of a spat with Min. Bannister over the appointment of the contractor's board. His point of view must be taken with a grain of salt.

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Gotoutintime 5 months, 1 week ago

Looks like Bahamians disguised as Chinese to me!

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OMG 5 months, 1 week ago

Simple. Immigration officers and police surround the building, isolate different areas and do a head and nationality count. Why does government make the simplest thing so difficult.

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TheMadHatter 5 months, 1 week ago

Wonder if anyone considers that somebody, some random Bahamian, living under terrible financial stress along with other stresses in life, unable to feed his/her children and provide medicine, might reach a breaking point and really lose their temper? Could that happen? Can Mr Symonette's computer answer that?

By the way, where did he buy that computer? At the Toys R Us going out of business sale?

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TalRussell 5 months, 1 week ago

Too political a tightening red apparel wear for the many comrades among 91,409 voting red 10th May 2017 - cast aside by Imperials Minnis and KP to struggle makes family finances ends meet their cost living since fateful 10th May 2017... while they live constant fear the dreaded corned beef policeman's coming bust through they simple dwelling's front door. { You just can't make up a government too damn lazy let almost a full year go by without any want be checking on jobs at 70% foreigner work-site}.

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Craig 5 months, 1 week ago

All this talk of decending upon and surrounding the site with immigration and police officers and the like to conduct head counts is nonsence. The HOA is just like any other contract, there are remedies for non compliance with any of its terms. What ever department of gov is responsible for ensuring compliance with the terms of the contract must invoke the remedy as we can rest assured that if the gov of the Bahamas does not fulfill its obligations under the contract there will be consequences! Who ever in gov is responsible for ensuring contract term compliance please do your job.

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TalRussell 5 months, 1 week ago

Ma Comrades, maybe time we change the People Tolerance System?

  • Exuma-Armageddon -

............///////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrhjwj__l1U

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DaGoobs 5 months, 1 week ago

Have Foulkes and Symonette lost their minds? Perhaps this is why the FNM has such a low trust and results ranking with the electorate less than 1 year after the election? Both of these Ministers sound as if they could care less whether Bahamians are even employed at The Pointe, or whether the 70%/30% Bahamian to Chinese worker ratio is being maintained. Their approach is appalling and one more nail in the FNM's coffin on why they are unlikely to be re-elected in 4 years time. The Labour Dept. should have been onsite by now to verify the number of Chinese to Bahamian workers. Anything less than 7 out of every 10 workers being Bahamian or if more than 3 out of every 10 workers is anything other than Bahamian then the site needs to be shut down until the proper balance has been achieved. Similarly, Immigration Dept. should have been onsite by now verifying that non-Bahamians working there have the proper work permits otherwise they need to be deported. Enough of this BS where Bahamians have to be begging hat in hand or protesting at the risk of being arrested and prosecuted for standing up for their rights in their own country. Get up off your a*** Foulkes and Symonette and show us you give a damn about Bahamian workers. You expect me to pay construction workers full price if they work Over the Hill but wanna give the Chinaman a humongous break with cheap Labour just because it's downtown. Hopefully this place won't fall down due to cheap and shoddy workmanship when it's all finished causing another set of embarrassment.

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TalRussell 5 months, 1 week ago

No fracking way any comrade Grand Bahamlander would dare trust red imperials Minnis. KP, Dion and Carl Wilshire with storing, drilling, transporting or diggings sludge oil... Why would they even bother send in safety, health or environmental inspectors into Oban's pip dream facilities.... Growing doubts there will be a 2022 rungin' general election bell for the 91,409 to demonstrate their 2017 voting regrets. Where in any before mention - does it speaks to It's a matter of TRUST?

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TigerB 5 months, 1 week ago

Well I see we on the shirt colors again, so let's talk about it then....How about Green next time? The Gold wasn't good enough, now its being said about the Red, so we vote green then? Hell, Brave has not change his philosophy, While in government money wastage wasn't an issue for him, now suddenly its a big deal... let's vote green, better yet for those who complain about red, let's vote gold!! then all will be be well with us.

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bogart 5 months, 1 week ago

Its pretty obvious that there are not LABOUR BOARD INSPECTORS in the hiringfreeze, the 10% cutbacks that all dept must follow.......to improve restore country credit grading........in the quest to try and balance the books....and extract funding to pay present salaries and funding for hospital etc.........LABOUR BOARD INSPECTORS are needed in these extremely difficult times to investigate wrongdoings, unhealthy work conditions, worker abuses, violations of the Labour Act which are probably at their highest levels......etcetc....

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TheMadHatter 5 months, 1 week ago

So The Pointe doesnt pay National Insurance? Can't NIB say how many long forms get submitted each month? LOL

I guess if these Chinese were coming out of the bank with bags of money in hand, Foulkes would say "I haven't gotten any complaints about stolen money. Leave them Chinese alone!!! Nobody has filed an official complaint."

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John 5 months, 1 week ago

So why do you need a head count? Brent Symonette knows exactly how many work permits he is Soto CCA. And bet if they was Haitians or Jamaicans on that site the big yellow school bus would’ve been park across the street many mornings and evenings and times in between shaking them down. Then the Labor Department should also be there sending home every single person that is above and beyond the agreedratio of foreigners to Bahamians. They want build their hotel then let them follow the rules and regulations. We appreciate the investment but Bahamians have to live and eat too.

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joeblow 5 months, 1 week ago

Why are we reading in the newspaper that we need a headcount at the Pointe. Shouldn't we be reading the results of the headcount instead?

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Sickened 5 months, 1 week ago

I think all of the Bahamian workers at the site have the high paying office jobs and are working at the supervisory and management levels in air conditioned offices, receiving $100k p.a. in salaries... plus bonuses of course!!

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