By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
The Disney Lighthouse project would put Bahamians back in “slavery” if they keep wages low, a South Eleuthera business owner has claimed.
Felita Adderley, owner of Adderley’s Landscaping and Plant Nursery, said: “As I see it, this will only profit the foreigners and it won’t profit the Bahamian people and the Eluetherans, because it is just like you’re back in slavery and they don’t want to pay you what you’re worth. If they are going to be doing anything up here they need to look out for the Bahamian people and not just themselves because as it stands that’s how it’s always been.”
Ms Addereley said “a lot of people quit” the construction phase of Disney’s Lighthouse Point project citing unfair work conditions and low wages and reckons it won’t be near the 300 jobs that Disney is promising post-construction for Bahamians and that the company would probably opt to bring in their own people to work.
However, Christopher Cates, the Lumber Shed’s owner, struck a more positive note and told Tribune Business the additional jobs Disney will be bringing on to the Lighthouse Point project are “wonderful” and that South Eleuthera needs them.
Mr Cates also said: “I think what’s really necessary is for our young men and women to see the opportunity to work on their skill set, if they don’t have it yet, but really step up and make sure they put their best foot forward.
“I think a lot is going to be expected of them and I’m hopeful that a lot of them will seize the day. This is, for many of them, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is their opportunity to jump on the wheel and make themselves a living.”
He added: “I’ve been in Rock Sound for 20 plus years and the opportunities for our young people have been few and far between. I think they need to see them for what they are, jump on them and get as much experience as they can.
“An opportunity is an opportunity. It may not be the ideal salary that they’re hoping for, or the ideal job that they’re looking for, but I’d like to think that many of them were sitting on the blocks or finding themselves at home unemployed would see this as an opportunity to develop some life skills; things like discipline and getting up early in the morning and going and putting in a good eight hours.
“So I’m very hopeful. I really am hopeful. I don’t know what the job opportunities are that they’re going to present. But I can only hope that especially for so many of our young people who have not worked in so long. This will be an avenue and opportunity to get out and start something for themselves.”
Renaldo Pinder, manager of the One Stop Shop, said he is looking forward to the jobs Disney would be brining to South Eleuthera. He said once more people had jobs it would be better for his businesses and the pay range does not play a factor in his estimation.
He said: “Some people just don’t like changes, if you ask me. Sometimes a change is needed. I think this is going to be a good boost for the South Eleuthera economy if the person from South Eleuthera gets a job with Disney. I can’t say about anybody from outside of South Eleuthera, but if their preference is the people in South Eleuthera then this will help our economy significantly.”