BPL wants Bahamians on Wartsila project
Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Executive Director Patrick Rollins said yesterday that talks with the union over a deal with Finnish technology group Wartsila to install a new 132-megawatt power plant at its Clifton Pier site plant have been very productive.
He said Wartsila is “on board” with having as many Bahamians as possible work on the installation of the plant.
Tensions rose between BPL and the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) following the announcement of the new plant.
BEWU President Paul Maynard said he feared that Bahamians would be treated as “second class citizens” during the installation process, and spoke out against the possibility of foreigners being brought in to install the new equipment.
A few weeks later, Maynard said that he had written to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis asking him to step in to address the union’s concerns.
“We have had talks with the union,” Rollins said.
“We are doing our best to hear their concerns.
“We are doing our best to have as many Bahamians working on the project as possible.
“Wartsila is on board with this too, so everyone is on the same page here.”
Maynard said yesterday that he believed progress on the matter was a direct result of the prime minister’s intervention.
“I’m on a committee with him, and he has assured me that my point was noted and he assured me that he has straightened that part of it out,” Maynard said.
“They will train Bahamians to operate the plant.
“And like I say, this is not a negotiable situation. It is what I expect.”
When the contract was announced early last month, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said, “We are going to have to make sure that we fully rely on the experts to come in and do what they do best. We do not have anybody inside of BPL today that would understand Wartsila four-stroke engines.
“And so, we are relying on Wartsila to come and do what they do best around the world.”
However, Edmund Phillips, business development specialist for Wartsila, said that the company will “always seek local labor first” and will aim to “use local staff where applicable”.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish