By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union president Dwayne Woods said previous Bahamian prime ministers would have fired Water & Sewerage Corporation board director Bennett Minnis for his inflammatory comments about the Official Opposition.
Mr Minnis, in a recently circulated voice note, is alleged to have described the PLP as a party of “corrupt, thieving, no good, bastard, homosexual, African monkeys.”
“Under Hubert Ingraham he would’ve been gone, under Pindling he would’ve been gone and I presume under Perry Christie he would’ve been gone,” Mr Woods said.
“He shouldn’t be allowed to remain in that position with that kind of statement. In fact, the union is afraid. The union is now fearful with somebody with a mindset like that being on the board.”
Mr Minnis doubled down on his comments in a later interview with The Tribune, calling PLP leader Philip “Brave” Davis an “ugly African monkey” and repeatedly referring to party executives as “si*es”.
Critics have called for his resignation, but the Minnis administration has not said whether he will be kept or removed from his role as a director on the corporation’s board.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said little when asked about the matter on Monday, telling reporters Free National Movement leaders have already addressed it.
It is not clear what he meant, but FNM chairman Carl Culmer has neither publicly condemned nor defended the remarks and has said the PLP should “clean their own doorstep.”
Works Minister Desmond Bannister, who has oversight of WSC, told The Tribune the matter was a Cabinet issue.
Yesterday, Mr Woods said keeping Mr Minnis on the WSC’s board is proof that the administration has accepted a drop in standards.
Mr Woods also said WSC employees who behaved similarly would likely be punished if they ever made such comments publicly.
“We are governed by an industrial agreement and it speaks to major and minor breaches,” Mr Woods said. “I’m quite sure the chairman would’ve acted. I am quite sure if a union member had gotten as political as that the chairman would’ve acted in lieu of this major breach of conduct and it would’ve resulted in either a suspension, a strong written warning or dismissal.
He continued: “I’m sure it would’ve amounted to a major breach because there’s no place for that type of behaviour amongst human beings because everybody has a democratic right to their political affiliation.”
“I don’t want to seem political but the statement that Bennett Minnis made is indicative of the behaviour of the board and what we have been saying at WSC all along. I agree he shouldn’t even be on that board, the statement means he shouldn’t be there because the statement is indicative of his prejudices.
Mr Woods added: “It’s indicative of the behaviour of the board in relation to members of the union.”
Some young Bahamians have expressed disappointment with the administration’s handling of Mr Minnis’ remarks.
On Twitter, one university student recently posted: “I had a friend recently tell me that I’m always trying to find something to complain about concerning politics. The issue is when we don’t, we have people like Bennett Minnis feeling as if he should not resign after these comments.”
Another millennial said: “So the PM’s office blasts Jamaican CEO but not Bennett Minnis? Right, okay.” Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe, Parliamentary Secretary in the OPM, recently blasted Balan Nair, the head of BTC’s parent company, Liberty, Latin America, for comments he made about Bahamians in Jamaica.