March against BTC deal set for today
Bahamians opposing the sale of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC) to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)are expected to gather at Clifford Park to participate in a march to Parliament today, as Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham prepares to present the government’s mid-year budget.
March organizer Kirk Farquharson, an electrician, is billing the event as a movement designed to”stand up for Bahamians.”
Farquharson, who is chairman of the’Committee to save BTC for Bahamians’, said the sale of the corporation is not in the best interest of the country.
“It is a serious national security risk to the country when you allow your telecommunications industry to be controlled by foreigners-by Cable and Wireless in this case. That is a serious plight in our country and we cannot allow that,”he said.
“A lot of people are going to lose jobs and so forth, and it is going to get worse when they think it is going to get better. These are the things that we, the Committee to Save BTC, stand against,”Farquharson said.”We believe that if it should be sold, it should be sold to Bahamians in a way where we can see it will get better.”
Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)president Bernard Evans, who represents hundreds of line-staff employees at BTC, said yesterday that he is glad somebody has taken up the mantle to fight for BTC besides the union.
“We have been saying all along that this is not only a union fight, but a Bahamian fight and it crosses all political lines,”Evans said.
He stressed that while the union is not against the sale of BTC, it is against the company being sold to CWC. Additionally, he said the union is opposed to the way the whole thing has unfolded.
It is expected that BTC employees will also participate in today’s demonstration, but Evans noted that the union is not calling out its members because of legal reasons.
“But obviously, if they are coming out for our cause, it is only right for those of us who have the wherewithal, who have some days to make the sacrifice and do what is proper,”he said.”The BCPOU’s members and BTC employees know about sacrifices. We did not become the number one union in the land because we are passive. We always stand up on principles.”
Bahamas Union of Teachers(BUT)president Belinda Wilson expects that a large number of her union’s membership will also participate in the march. Government schools will be closed today as teachers are participating in a training workshop.
Earlier this month, the government signed a shareholder’s agreement and share purchase agreement that will finally privatize BTC and hand over a 51 percent shareholding to CWC.
Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham has said nothing will stop the deal.