Thursday, Dec 5, 2019
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Union boss joins in rebuke of Liberty CEO

The Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union (BCPMU) yesterday joined the rebuke of Liberty Latin America Chief Executive Officer Balan Nair’s recent comments about the workers at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) and Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, adding that its members are “livid” and the union stands in solidarity with the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU).

BCPMU President Ricardo Thompson said in a letter that since BTC’s sale to Cable and Wireless and subsequent takeover by Liberty, the company has not achieved the growth that was to be achieved by privatization. Thompson said in his letter that the “planned upgrade resulted in a downgrade”.

“We are convinced that there should now be a rollback and a recall,” he said.

“Since 2011 BTC has endured four CEOs and three downsizing exercises which have single-handedly destroyed a pillar in Bahamian society.”

Thompson said the control of BTC has been “systematically removed from The Bahamas”, and claimed that employees now feel less empowered on their jobs and are required to “do more with less”.

He further claimed there are less vehicles for technicians, less supplies for the operation and less management control and participation in the day-to-day running of the business.

Thompson also claimed that jobs are being lost to foreign contractors.

Minnis contended on the floor of the House of Assembly yesterday that the government, as far as the contract language allows, will not allow jobs to be occupied by foreigners at BTC if there are qualified Bahamians available, and he added that the government will not allow call center jobs to be moved out of this country.

Thompson said in his letter that Nair’s suggestion that Bahamians fall below Jamaicans in terms of their performance is “not only insulting and untrue, but also culturally inappropriate”.

“Mr. Balan Nair used an analogy with reference to Jamaica and BTC employees as being ‘night and day’; we vehemently disagree with this statement, unless his reference is to Jamaica as ‘night,’” he said.

“BTC’s focus over the years prior to Cable and Wireless/Liberty Global has been the training and development of its employees, hence we can boast of the largest cadre of qualified employees. We can boast of having certified technical staff, CPAs, MBAs, etc. who can stand amongst the best internationally. This sounds like ‘day’ employees.”

Yesterday Nair apologized to BTC staff, the Bahamian people and the prime minister in a company-wide email, while also sending a personal letter to the prime minister, apologizing to Minnis and the Bahamian people for his remarks.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
Central bank report:
Former Nassau Guardi