Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes is encouraging the 54 employees laid off from Cavalier Construction Company Limited last week to register with the Department of Labour in order to be placed in other jobs. He also urged them to file for the unemployment benefit until such time that they can find alternate employment.
Cavalier and its sister company Bobcat Bahamas Limited revealed in a statement on Monday that they are in the process of appointing a liquidator to wind up the businesses, explaining that a change in the way the construction market doles out jobs has left the giant, do-all company out in the lurch.
“Cavalier Construction Company gave notice to me last week, pursuant to law, that they were closing their operation, which also included the Bobcat operation,” Foulkes said.
“The Department of Labour and a team of officers are working with Cavalier to ensure that all of the benefits under the law are given to all 54 employees.
“This is a very sad time for those employees and their families. I would encourage all of the employees to register with the Department of Labour. There are many construction job opportunities available in the Family Islands and in Nassau. So, if they can register with us, I am sure that some of them will find alternate employment.
“Also, I would like to encourage them to avail themselves of the unemployment benefit, which is a relief that they can get for the next few weeks so they can continue to meet their commitments.”
Cavalier said in its statement that it had ceased trading as of last week Wednesday and that all employees and staff have been made redundant.
“The situation we find ourselves in now is primarily the result of the significantly reduced turnover/workload for the company, which we have been experiencing now for a number of years,” the statement revealed.
“There has been a change in the construction market in the country, whereby the bigger projects previously carried out by the larger local general contractors, such as ourselves, are now typically carried out under construction management contracts.
“Under these arrangements, developers and owners employ a construction management team who then subcontract smaller packages of work to contractors/subcontractors. This business model effectively cuts the traditional general contractor out of the market.”
The statement added that Cavalier’s cash in hand was also not enough to help the company restructure its model to compete with those firms that have thrived under the new model.
“As a company having a number of longstanding employees, we have simply not had the cash reserves needed to restructure our operations due to the significant financial cost/liability associated with this exercise as set out in the employment legislation,” the statement pointed out.
“It is obviously a sad time for all involved. Cavalier Construction and Bobcat Bahamas have been a huge part of many peoples’ lives over the years. They are companies who throughout their long history have had loyal, hard-working, talented employees working for them, building throughout The Bahamas and beyond.
“Following the ceasing of trading, a liquidator will be appointed shortly who will work with the companies’ secured creditor and other creditors in order to facilitate an orderly winding up of the affairs of both businesses.”