Friday, Jul 3, 2020
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BPL starts worker exits today

Some of the 300-plus Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) employees who applied and were approved for voluntary separation packages (VSEPs) will leave the power company today, The Nassau Guardian understands.

Employees who have taken the VSEPs will be phased out over several months, but those deemed critical will be kept on until after the summer, which BPL considers its “critical period”, according to BPL CEO Whitney Heastie, who was responding to questions from the media at a press conference at BPL headquarters yesterday.

“The numbers have not changed; we are looking at about 300 people,” he said.

“A third of those [people] we have deemed as critical employees.

“We’re going to have to retain them, ask them to stay back to help us through this most critical period of the year, which is summer, which is our peak season.

“Then, there is a phase-out approach with those that are staying on, as to when they can be released.

“I will also note that with the release of those individuals, there is also shoring up of people.

“Some of those folks are really critical. A lot of the folks, who [will leave] are the most senior people in this organization with the most experience in this organization.

“We certainly have learned from these types of exercises in the past, where voluntary separation packages have been offered, the most senior, the most experienced folks leave and then you are in a more critical situation than you were before.

“So, we have taken those learnings and applied those learnings, so we don’t fall into the same trap.

“I think we are in a good position across the board, both technically and administratively… to make sure we can run this business, first of all, safely and reliably, through the summer period.”

This week, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said many of these employees have worked, trained and retrained with the power company for more than two decades, and the loss of that collective experience could have far-reaching consequences.

The separation program is expected to save the company $1 million to $2 million per month.

BPL rolled out the VSEPs on May 18 and closed the program on June 8.

In that time, more than 300 people decided they wanted to part ways with the company.

Former operator of BPL, PowerSecure, was to roll out a similar exercise.

At the time, PowerSecure was looking for participation from about 233 employees.

BPL said it has no plans for another VSEP in the near future.

More than 1,000 people are employed at BPL.

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