By Khrisna Russell
Deputy Chief Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light Ltd plans to soon begin a “rightsizing” exercise, which could see nearly 300 of the electricity provider’s 1,050 employees sent home.
BPL’s Deputy Chairman Patrick Rollins confirmed yesterday during a press conference that the power provider was in the discussion and planning phase of this exercise, although he did not reveal the extent of the staff reduction or when it was projected to begin.
Unions representing workers at BPL said yesterday that the company has said 233 workers have to be made redundant and questioned who these employees will be. The unions also said they have yet to see the company’s full business plan.
BPL’s former management company PowerSecure stated in its business plan, which was released last year, that it wanted an approximate “30 per cent reduction in staff by year three of the plan.”
That figure would have represented 315 BPL workers and was projected to reduce “the cost of service to customers by an estimated $0.013 per kilowatt hour as a result” the business plan further said.
The Minnis administration severed ties with PowerSecure in September 2017.
Insiders told The Tribune yesterday it was hoped other industry stakeholders would absorb the workers who would be made jobless.
Despite the staff cuts being foreshadowed, the Bahamas Electrical Utility Union and Bahamas Electrical Workers Union were angered by the impending move.
In a press statement issued yesterday, both unions said they would not be “pushed around” and put the country on notice that if the board and executive management attempt to intimidate them, then it would be a “very dark and hot summer”.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, Mr Rollins said the need to “rightsize” was due to plans to implement new automated procedures.
He said: “All the stakeholders agree that 1,050 employees, especially as we implement new automated procedures, there is going to be a need to right size. We are in discussions now, in (the) planning stage (and) discussions to at some point have a rightsizing exercise in the organisation.
“We have 1,050 employees at present and our goal is to build a world class organisation with our Bahamian team. We are blessed to have a lot of talented individuals in our company, but there are still some missing skill sets and we are working to fill these missing skill sets and add them to our staff so we can be a first in class utility company,” Mr Rollins also said.
“To fill these positions, we first look inside the organisation. Then we go to the Bahamas we look for a Bahamian somewhere in the Bahamas. If we can’t find a Bahamian in the Bahamas we go international and look for Bahamians. Only then after we have exhausted those avenues that we look for a non-Bahamian to fill those positions and when we bring a non-Bahamian in, that non-Bahamian is assigned to a Bahamian so they could understudy them, so we can have a transfer of knowledge. So, when they go home we’ll have Bahamians filling those positions.
“We’ve heard a lot of talk over the last few days about Grand Bahama Power Company bringing people in. I just want to say many of the people who we got from GBPC are people who were born and grew up in Nassau.”
He said BPL is looking for Bahamians to fill vacancies because executives are confident Bahamians could solve the problems of the company.