Govt offers help to laid off workers
The government is offering a variety of social and monetary assistance to the 71 workers laid off this week by Hutchison Whampoa in Grand Bahama, the Ministry of Labour and Social Development said.
“To assist these individuals, various government agencies, inclusive of the Department of Labour, the Department of Social Services and the National Insurance Board will offer similar services as has been done in the past with other displaced workers,” the statement said.
“These services will include social assistance, registration for the Unemployment Benefit and the Employment Skills Data Bank. Counseling services, both financial and spiritual, will also be provided by other social partners.”
The statement added that the services will be available early in the new year.
The 71 employees in Freeport were mainly middle management personnel and a few line staff, according to reports.
The dismissals come as the Grand Bahamian economy continues to suffer.
Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing told The Nassau Guardian on Thursday that the lay-offs will present further challenges to the economy.
“It continues to reflect on the challenges that exist in our national economic situation, but also in the global economic situation, and so all of us have to continue to be very vigilant,” Laing said.
But the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) took a different view.
Earlier this week, a party spokesman accused the Ingraham administration of having a “lackadaisical” attitude toward Grand Bahama’s economy.
“Rather than being actively engaged with the major stakeholders in Grand Bahama to protect Bahamian jobs the FNM (Free National Movement) has been busy in Nassau lining the pockets of its special interest benefactors,” said Julian Russell, the PLP’s candidate for Eight Mile Rock.
“With five elected members of Parliament and two appointed cabinet ministers responsible for representing the affairs and interests of Grand Bahama, it is unconscionable and disgraceful that the FNM government has stood idly by as Grand Bahama descends into an economic abyss and hopelessness among our people grows daily.”
But Laing said the government has sought on every occasion to do all it can to bring economic stability to The Bahamas, including Grand Bahama, through a variety of investment promotional tours and economic initiatives.