By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
THE Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas advised staff in a memo Monday that the corporation will be restructuring with the possibility of downsizing.
This comes as the BCB resumed operations Monday after COVID-related sanitisation was accomplished over the weekend only to close again Tuesday. BCB staff were advised on Saturday, August 15 that the BCB headquarters on Rusty Bethel Drive, off Collins Ave, would be closed for deep cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.
The headquarters reopened on Monday but closed Tuesday after a second staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The BCB said that out of an abundance of caution, additional COVID-19 sanitisation measures will be carried out at its headquarters.
Meanwhile, a memo dated August 17, 2020 and signed by the corporation’s general manager, Kayleaser Deveaux-Isaacs, said BCB was facing serious financial challenges.
“In addition to the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, the corporation is facing serious financial challenges and as a result therefore, the board and executive management will be determining how to restructure the corporation, which may, if absolutely necessary, include downsizing, to ensure the future economic viability and sustainability of the corporation,” the memo said.
“As an essential service provider, the corporation resumed operation today, August 17, 2020 as usual. Note, however, that programming will be altered slightly for television at this time until further notice and the Northern Service team will step up to assist with the evening news hour. Radio will continue as usual.”
When contacted for comment, Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union president Dino Rolle said he found the memo troubling.
“Clearly, the government of The Bahamas has started to make a move in moving certain persons in management particularly with the former executive chairman,” the union president said Monday. “I don’t think for the good of that corporation they went far enough. Now for staff to receive a back slap from this uncaring management to talk about the corporation (might have) to downsize - that might be because management over the years didn’t have a clue about growing the corporation. That is why they find themselves in this position, because now that the government is decreasing its subvention, the line staff has always carried the Broadcasting Corporation.”
He also alleged BCB management had asked staff to come in to work Monday, despite the confirmed case. He said staff were allegedly told by management if they can’t report to work they must “either write in or take vacation days”.
“That is bullying,” Mr Rolle.
He said “threats” of downsizing has made an already sour situation between management and staff at the state-owned broadcaster worse.
“For persons who were already traumatised, not knowing what their status is and for ZNS management now to come with that kind of language threatening about downsizing, it further exacerbates the concerns that the members have at ZNS about the style of management in that place,” he said.
“It’s unconscionable, not only for management to try and drive these persons who are interacting with an affected colleague and they have yet to receive a call from the Ministry of Health during the contact tracing - they don’t know what their status is.”
The Tribune also spoke with a senior staff member who was also not happy with the corporation.
“I am sure I speak on behalf of 90 percent of staff at ZNS,” the staff member, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “We are tired of being treated poorly by this place. For years mould has affected our lungs. They owe us money. . .They have no respect for us at all. We are supposed to meet one on one with the chairman and I cannot wait. I hope he has time. And, I hope he deals with the issues.
“As far as the downsizing is concerned, all the people who stand up for their rights will be gone. At this point I don’t even care. If they ask me to go and they have the correct money as severance, I will be gone out of here immediately. Staff morale is very low here. People struggle to come to work and a lot of people are only here because they need a salary. That is God's truth.”