The Grand Bahama Shipyard sought to dispel social media rumors that suggested its restructuring exercise was contentious, explaining that many of the 67 employees made redundant were “happy” to accept their packages.
In two statements, the shipyard laid out its restructuring plan and warned people intent on spreading misinformation about the company’s operations through social media that their actions could further hurt the already ailing company.
In its statements, the shipyard pointed to damage to one of its dry docks from Hurricane Dorian; damage caused by an industrial accident to another dock; and the COVID-19 pandemic, as reasons the company is struggling to keep its head above water.
While two incapacitated docks have decreased the shipyard’s work capacity by 75 percent, the statements said, COVID-19 has slashed the amount of work coming in, and made global competition even tougher. And the shipyard warned that inflammatory news bout its operations could have a further impact on its potential contracts.
“…We work in a global industry and using social media to debate the company and its future is potentially damaging to the business as customers become concerned about some of the rhetoric used,” the shipyard said.
“It makes them uncomfortable regarding the welcome they may receive in The Bahamas.
“If critics want Freeport to prosper, and the shipyard to continue to provide jobs and vocational training opportunities, for instance to the 41 apprentices that we have kept on in addition to the core Bahamian workforce, then they should get their facts straight and be supportive and not try to drag us down.”
The shipyard said its future depends on restructuring its workforce now, and bringing Bahamian workers back as business increases. The company also said Bahamian permanent workers currently outnumber foreign workers two to one.
“Unfortunately, our survival will necessitate changes to both the Bahamian and foreign workforce in order to bring down overall numbers,” it said.
“This is key to making our pricing more competitive and attracting new business. It is also a reflection of the reality that we have only one operational dock and can only take a far reduced number of projects at any one time.
“Moving forward, as new projects come in, the workforce will increase by up to hundreds of Bahamians based on the needs of each particular job, which is why we have to be very cost competitive to secure this work.
“Accordingly, we have committed to reaching out to those made redundant when ships come in, either directly or through local subcontractors.
“Most shipyards around the world, when forced to downsize, bring in temporary foreign workers at the most competitive prices. We are committed to bringing in Bahamian workers whenever possible.
“Our quota of skilled foreign workers has also been greatly reduced, though a core group will remain on island to be drawn from as needed. We will always need a mix of local and foreign labor to be economically viable and to ensure we have the correct skills. We are no different from any other shipyard in the world in this respect.
The shipyard is partly owned by Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
“If the above (stated) changes are made, we believe that the shipyard will not just survive, but will thrive once again,” the company said.
“We remain a global leader in terms of efficiency and rapid turnaround time and this gives us significant advantages in bidding for new refit and repair jobs, provided we can also offer a competitive cost base.
“We will continue to work with the union, employees and government to ensure that the shipyard remains viable in the short term and that it can look forward to a bright and prosperous future for all concerned once the immediate hurdles have been surmounted.”