Maynard: BPL needs to re-engage 50 to 100 workers
Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said yesterday that Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) needs a “come to Jesus” moment after facing critical challenges at the Clifton Pier Power Station.
Maynard said the recent voluntary separation packages offered by BPL have handicapped the company and argued that between 50 and 100 former employees should be re-engaged.
“We’ve lost people and I am, as president, telling them that we need to bring them back in order to transfer knowledge,” Maynard said.
“They have to transfer knowledge. You just can’t go out like that. You have to bring them back to transfer knowledge.”
BPL will pay out $70 million to 314 employees who accepted the VSEP offers.
It paid out $56 million to 219 employees as of June 30. Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said the separation dates were staggered to ensure that the company’s “efficiency is not negatively impacted”.
Maynard said he has made a recommendation to BPL’s new board to reinstate some former employees who accepted the VSEPs.
He said, “In the critical areas, at least 50 to 100 you need to bring back in order for knowledge transfer to take place.”
Maynard added, “You need to bring them back on contract. You have to do that. That’s the only way you can get through this.
“Forget what’s happening at generation; we have major challenges in distribution, in the [transmission and distribution] side that need to be sorted out. If a hurricane rolls through here we’re in trouble.”
Asked if things will get better, Maynard said things will only get worse.
“It will get worse before it gets better,” he said.
“It always does.”
Maynard said the company should realize that it made a mistake with the VSEP exercise.
“You need to have a come to Jesus moment,” he added.
BPL’s plant at Clifton suffered three recent fires: The first on Friday night, the second on Sunday night and a third on Monday morning.
“We’ve had several fires that took place over the last couple of days,” Superintendent Walter Evans, officer in charge of Fire Services, said on Monday.
“They were not just in one particular area and so, we are investigating now to determine what would have been the cause of these three matters, why these incidents [have] taken place, and the frequency of them.”
BPL said in a statement that fires on Sunday and Monday were minor and caused no additional damage to the station.
BPL has said load shedding will be necessary as a result of Friday’s fire.
A fire at one of the power plant’s major diesel engine decks reportedly began on Friday night when a technician was attempting to make an adjustment while bringing a generator that had been out of service back online.
The fire spread from the engine deck down to a basement and throughout the station.
That generator was reportedly destroyed.