By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Labour Minister yesterday said the number of Bahamians employed on downtown Nassau's Pointe project has increased by between 100 to 150 percent.
Dion Foulkes, pictured, said: "I have received two reports recently, one from the Department of Labour - which we did about three weeks ago - and we also received a report from The Pointe yesterday.
"There has been an increase in the Bahamian participation. In one report it is over 100 percent, and in another report it's over 150 percent. We want to ensure that we are looking at apples vis-a-vis apples as opposed to apples and oranges.
"If you analyse both phases, the garage plus the new development, it's like 73 percent Bahamian and 27 percent non-Bahamian, just looking at those two phases. We want to restrict this analyses to the development going on now."
Mr Foulkes said the Government wants to ensure that, at a minimum, The Pointe's workforce is 70 percent Bahamian.
"They have assured us that next summer it would be way beyond 70 percent, and may get as high as 80-85 percent at some points. Every three months we are doing a report to ensure that is happening," said Mr Foulkes.
The Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) and its president, Leonard Sands, have repeatedly expressed concern over the the ratio of Bahamian versus Chinese workers employed at the Pointe development. They previously branded as "hogwash" the Government's finding that The Pointe is not in breach of its Heads of Agreement on labour ratios.
In May, Ministry of Labour officials met with Daniel Liu, the Pointe's president, his vice-president and legal counsel to discuss a report that found the ratio of workers at the downtown Nassau development was 75 percent/25 percent in favour of Chinese employees. The Heads of Agreement calls for a 70/30 split in favour of Bahamians, meaning the ratio has been reversed.
The Ministry of Labour said at the time: "The explanation noted is that the present stage of construction, representing the second phase of The Pointe development, is the erection of the superstructure.
"This requires specialised post-tension concrete structure workers to complete this phase in a very short timeframe. Qualified Bahamians have been, and continue to be, sought. In the following phases substantially more Bahamian workers and contractors will be engaged in order to comply with the overall 70 percent Bahamian, and 30 percent non-Bahamian, workforce composition."