0

Double Talk: Turns Out Pointe Workers Clause Has Two Meanings

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes.

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE clause in the heads of agreement struck between Pointe developers and the previous Christie administration outlining the ratio of Bahamian to foreign labour has two interpretations, according to Labour Minister Dion Foulkes yesterday.

Mr Foulkes told media outside of Cabinet the Minnis administration has opted to interpret the clause that calls for a 70/30 labour split in favour of Bahamians, as a requirement to be satisfied over the lifetime of the project, and not a static ratio.

He was challenged by Progressive Liberal Party leader and former minister of works, Philip Davis, who yesterday called on Mr Foulkes to provide the clause.

Mr Davis also questioned why the government would adopt an interpretation that disadvantaged Bahamians.

“This heads of agreement was designed where you can read it two different ways,” Mr Foulkes said. “You can read it in a fashion which says it be 70/30 at all times or you can read it in a fashion that says at the end of the project, the minimum has to be 70 percent Bahamian and 30 percent non-Bahamian.

“As you know this agreement was something we inherited from the previous administration but government is continuous and we are not casting any blame on the persons who put this agreement together.”

He continued: “But I must say that there has been a significant increase in the Bahamian work component at The Pointe and beginning next summer, according to management, it will be over 70 percent Bahamian component. Additionally, by the end of the project they are estimating it will be close to 85 percent. If you level out the Bahamian component over the lifetime of the project, it will be over 70 percent, and that is how we are interpreting it.”

Mr Foulkes added: “We are looking at the end result, more importantly we want the project to finish so that over 600 Bahamians can be permanently employed.”

This follows repeated calls from the Bahamian Contractors Association (BCA) and its president, Leonard Sands, for the government to show just how many Bahamians are currently employed at the $200m downtown Nassau development. The BCA previously branded as “hogwash” the government’s finding that The Pointe is not in breach of its heads of agreement on labour ratios.

However, Mr Sands agreed yesterday the agreement - as tabled by the former government – was vague, and could be interpreted in two different ways.

Mr Sands argued the principal concern was the lack of clarification on how Bahamians, skilled labourers and contractors, can engage the project.

“(The HOA) also promised work permits for up to 500,” Mr Sands said, “they thought that made sense. The challenge we are having with this HOA, it says in detail at the peak of construction. I am a project manager of ten plus years, I’ve had my fair share of developments, the peak of construction could be determined in any number of ways. It’s an area that is gray.

“We need clarification, and we request a sit down with stakeholders of this development. I don’t want a political statement, my membership is not interested in the politics. My members are interested in how do they derive benefits as Bahamians for their families from this project happening on downtown Nassau. I want the developer sitting down with us, or clearly outlining that in a press statement.”

Mr Sands continued: “How do we engage our contractors in the Bahamas? There is no clear path on how to engage in the project. I would have expected at this point in time The Pointe or its contractor would have announced it to the public.

“We’re not happy with the way the project is being developed because it’s too ambiguous on the engagement for locals, there is too much vagueness on how to be a part of the project. “Months ago, Wu (a Pointe official) said 150 contractors, no project will have 150 contractors. You will need a project the size of western New Providence for that.

“I’m against the manner in which the project is being allowed to progress without full clarification of opportunities to local contractors and how they can engage the project so our economy is fully benefiting. We can maximise the economy benefit with further engagement of local contractors who spend their money here,” Mr Sands said.

Mr Foulkes told media outside Cabinet a joint exercise was agreed upon with Pointe developers after the government’s report last month “did not quite coincide” with the workforce survey submitted by its management team.

Labour Director John Pinder and a team of investigators visited the worksite on Monday. Mr Pinder is expected to soon deliver a definitive report.

Meanwhile, Mr Davis insisted yesterday the interpretation given by Mr Foulkes was wrong.

“My recollection of the HOA is that it would be 70 percent Bahamian and 30 percent foreign labour and that was supposed to be throughout the contract,” Mr Davis said.

“It’s obvious (government’s interpretation) will mean that the Bahamian workforce would be deprived of earning a living, that means they will be losing about 40 percent of the workforce, they would be losing the opportunity to earn a living and also the consequence of that in so far as the economic impact to the community.”

Mr Davis continued: “I don’t know where Mr Foulkes would be getting that second interpretation from, that’s wrong, and it’s depriving Bahamians. That’s not the arrangement that we left in place.

“(Mr Foulkes) just needs to point out the provision he’s talking to that may have this double meaning, and even if it admits to two interpretations, you adopt the interpretation that favours Bahamians.

“So if he’s admitting there is two, why would he want to adopt the interpretation that disadvantages Bahamians?”

Comments

joeblow 2 weeks, 1 day ago

It appears the agreed upon 70% Bahamian goal will be met shortly before the project is completed! The constitution should be amended to include firing squads, exclusively for politicians, who blatantly sell out this country and her people!

0

TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Two meanings? The true meaning is that if you are a Bahamian today and want your future children to have jobs when they grow up, you better marry a Haitian or Chinese.

Otherwise ya chirren gah be beggin on da corner wit cream can.

0

TalRussell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Of all Minnis's imperial crown ministers - Comrade Dion, would find he self - encountering obstacle course getting out he morning shower at home

0

Telllikeitis 2 weeks, 1 day ago

This is typical of Bahamian politicians, where there are two interpretations, you pick the one that pushes the shaft the farthest up our arses...not the one that benefits the people whose time it is (sic sic)

0

bogart 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Lawyer Minister Foulkes who tries humanely correct illegal shantytowns bringing all parties into situation ....versus ....Lawyer Opposition leader Davis who side previous 25 people went against national Referendum voting NO and by their own MPs selves went against da BAHAMIAN people vote . ......double talk goosieing aint jus start wasting up pore Bahamian people tax money. KEEP UP DA GOOD WORK MINISTER FOULKES...,!!!!

0

mandela 2 weeks, 1 day ago

This government is full of it, to be honest, they are the worst ever, no matter where you turn or what section it's turning out to be the worst people's time ever

0

sealice 2 weeks, 1 day ago

why do the politicians have to try to kiss everyone's arsess? Why can't they just do what we elected them to do and kiss ours? 70% is 70% from day 1 until the chingrets go bankrupt shortly after Bahmar fails....AND we still only seeing short yellow "bahamians" non of the suk teet black bahamians we still aren't seeing the 70%

0

TalRussell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Loyalty of allegiance of Imperial red shirts crown cabinet minister was first pledged before Her Excellency Marguerite - you know the Lady residing in big pink house atop Mount Fitzwilliam - with a previous occupant being former King England - the same Lady with royal authority firing the entire Imperial red shirts cabinet - along with PM - and so do without need consult with the Queen across far side pond 5,298 miles away colony islands. { There is no need make this up }.

0

themessenger 2 weeks, 1 day ago

The clause has two meanings,from which of his two orifices doth he speak???

0

OldFort2012 2 weeks, 1 day ago

As a people, we must be hilarious to outsiders. When we go to the US looking for work, do we come up against 70:30 splits? Of course not. If we did, we would be the first to complain and probably call it racist.

But at home....different matter. We love to be "protected". Because we could not be bothered to learn. And compete.

0

TalRussell 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Ma comrades readers whether at home, work or riding jitney - might agree crown minister Dion, might be more suitable consider signing up join McDonald's or Burger King, to begin training join work on one they deep fryer, Fry lines.

0

TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 1 day ago

OldFort - the only way you can compete with a man who eats only 2 bowls of rice a day is for you to only eat 1 bowl a day.

Do you want to live in only 1 bowl of rice a day?

Why do we allow ANIMALS to come here and steal our humanity and dignity. I wonder if anyone considers that someday someone may become truly upset over this?

0

OldFort2012 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Well, given that the average wage for construction workers in China is well north of US$10,000, pus accommodation in Nassau, plus meals, plus transport across the globe, it would turn out that 2 bowls of rice are pretty damn expensive. Either that or the B$ should be trading for what it is really worth: about 10 cents US. Mathematics is a bitch. You can't fool it with wishful thinking.

0

TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 1 day ago

$10,000 ÷ 52weeks = $192.31/week. So a Bahamian would have to be willing to work for less to be competitive.

The transport is free on their own planes and ships coming here for business. The accomodation is free because they own the Hilton next door. The food is ... well we're back to the 2 bowls of rice again.

Hopefully people like you will wake up before we're all sucking a donkey's ass and saying we're grateful for the chocolate milk.

0

bogart 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Bahamian dollar is overvalued by 10 to 20% according to the IMF...see Tribune article 10 th October 2017. Coupled with the Chinrese authorities undervaluing currency swopping Bah for US makes sense to Chinese workers.Added perks include free Bahamian schooling for those having children 'anchor babies' while here plus there are cases of Work Permit holder renewing permits for over 18 years sufficient time to remain and raise a family and children getting citizenship. The added free Education and perka have been a honey pot already known to attract illegal economic migrants. Added costs to pore Bahamian taxpayer include deterrant apprehension measures Patrol boats for Defence Force..Apprehemsion ..and free return plane ticket ...pore Bahamian taxpayers jus cant win fer losing......mudda tek sic....!!!

0

TheMadHatter 2 weeks, 1 day ago

Im voting Bogart for Prime Minister next time dread.

0

Bobsyeruncle 2 weeks ago

I'm all for having a local workforce, but the problem is the vast majority of locals employed in the construction business have ZERO formal accreditation. Most are 'bush taught' and haven't been through a formal apprenticeship. They have no idea of local codes and god forbid they have any pride in their workmanship. If you're investing several hundred million in a business that will only survive on positive reviews and repeat business (along with a fair profit), who would you want to build it for you - someone who has been formally trained (quality work) or someone who watched a You Tube video (failed plumbing etc)? There's a reason just about every developed country requires all construction workers to have had some sort of formal training - history has taught them the consequences of not doing so. Never confuse Quality with Quantity !!

0

Gotoutintime 2 weeks ago

No worries guys---in 2022 we can put the PLP back in and everything will be Kum Ba Yah---Right??

0

Sign in to comment