Workers at The Pointe development site.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
LABOUR Minister Dion Foulkes says he plans to meet with executives of The Pointe on Tuesday to present the findings of a workforce census conducted by the Department of Labour at the $200m development.
He said he would not reveal the results of the census until speaking to the developers and briefing Cabinet.
In the wake of this, Bahamian Contractors Association President Leonard Sands levelled a new round of criticism at the Minnis administration, saying it was a sad day when officials do not have “their finger on the pulse” on such a situation.
“I plan to meet with the management of The Pointe on Tuesday morning to give them the results of the findings and to give them an opportunity to respond to what the census found,” Mr Foulkes said.
“I will then present to Cabinet and once that is done I would make a statement to the public.”
Asked if he could say whether anything was found to suggest the workforce ratio clause of 70 percent Bahamian workers to 30 percent foreign in the Heads of Agreement was not adhered to, Mr Foulkes said: “I would rather not go into that before I’ve presented to Cabinet.”
When asked if he saw this as a lack of transparency, Mr Sands said: “I don’t know if there is as much lack of transparency as there is lack of not having a finger on the pulse of the matter, it is a sad day. That’s what I believe. I think they don’t literally know and if they now know who is it going to be reported to and what is going to be the action?
“It’s not being handled well by the government and this matter is far from being settled. The public wants answers on this and we still await to see what the government’s response is.”
Last week The Tribune was told investigators from the Department of Labour discovered a disproportionate number of foreign labourers to Bahamian workers at The Pointe.
This was justified, according to a well-placed source, by The Pointe’s developers China Construction America that 100 Chinese nationals remained in the country following the completion of The Pointe’s parking garage for specialised purposes.
The workers were tasked with laying an apparent intricate steel foundation for the next phase of the development.
Developers explained to the government, The Tribune was told, a full complement of Bahamian workers are not needed at this time, but would be called upon once this portion of construction is finished. It is unclear whether this represents a breach of the workforce clause in the heads of agreement between CCA and the government, as the developer has made a case why there are more foreign workers on the project when compared to local builders.
The investigation was opened after Tribune photographers earlier this month 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.