PLP leader Philip Davis. (File photo)
By SYANN THOMPSON
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE government's disappointment in the ratio of foreign workers to Bahamian labour at The Pointe is "laughable," according to Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip "Brave" Davis.
“The foreign workers in this country could only work in the country through the permission of the government," Mr Davis said at a press conference yesterday. "So the government must know that they are granting work permits to The Pointe. If 70 percent of the workers at The Pointe are foreigners, it meant that the government gave them those number of work permits to work at The Pointe.
"So where’s the disappointment, why the disappointment? It just shows a failure of this government to pay attention to what is going on, that they are not monitoring what is going on in the country and in the economy. If they were monitoring The Pointe, they would have been able to recognise the numbers.”
Earlier this month, Labour Director John Pinder told The Tribune there were 264 foreign labourers to 90 Bahamian workers at site. According to a Department of Labour inspection report at the construction site completed at the end of last year, there were 229 Chinese workers and only 90 Bahamians; 35 people of other nationalities were working on the site as well as two Bahamian companies.
His comments came days after The Tribune did a head count of foreigners leaving the Bay Street construction site, estimating more than 200 Chinese labourers walking from the area to their accommodations across the street.
In the Heads of Agreement between China Construction America (CCA), The Pointe's developer, and the government, it states that 70 percent of the workers must be Bahamian, while 30 percent should be foreign.
This week outside Cabinet, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said the government "is very disappointed" with the disproportionate ratio of Bahamians to foreign workers at Bay Street construction site and is currently in talks with its management to resolve the issue.
“We’ve been in talks with the management at The Pointe, their explanation is that they have some 22 Bahamian subcontractors working at The Pointe and they are including those numbers - the employees that work for those 22 subcontractors as part of the Bahamian component,” said Mr Foulkes.
He added: “We’re sitting down with them, we are talking to them we did a survey as early as last week and it something we are not pleased with. Their figures conflict with our figures and it is something that we are trying to work out. Given what we have seen, their argument is depending on when you come the Bahamian component is much higher, whether you come in the morning or in the evening."
Meanwhile, Mr Pinder previously told The Tribune that he has sent a team out every month to do a head count to see if Pointe officials are complying with the prescribed worker ratio.
The Ministry of Labour was told back in 2018 by Pointe officials that more foreign workers were needed for the “superstructure” phase of the construction, requiring specialised workers.