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2006-07-21 07:21:21

Union Claims Shipyard Violating Bahamianization Policy

More loser Bahamians whining about their own incompetence and their inability to compete on a global level.

The president of the Grand Bahama Port Authority Workers Union claimed on Thursday that the Grand Bahama Shipyard is refusing to give qualified Bahamians first preference at jobs or train Bahamians onsite.

But Shipyard officials denied those claims.

At a press conference at union headquarters on Thursday, Harold Grey, the president, claimed that two foreign workers were hired for the positions of welding foreman when there were qualified Bahamians available to fill those openings.

"According to the agreement [with the government], they are supposed to [run] a notice for 10 days to give Bahamians preference to apply for the job and after that they're supposed to advertise the job publicly," Mr. Grey said.

"What the shipyard did was sometime between July 1 and 7…they brought in two employees without work permits and they put them on the job. [I] and the shop stewards met with [immigration and labour officials] and we complained to them.

"They didn't do anything about it until the union filed a dispute against the shipyard for violating the agreement. Then the immigration department called the shipyard and advised them to take the people off the job. They took the people off the job and on the 18 they granted the employees [their] work permits, but the notice isn't up until [July] 25," Mr. Grey said.

But David Dalgleish and Mick Holding, two officials at the shipyard, expressed disappointment that Mr. Grey would make such claims.

The said they held "amicable" discussions with him on Wednesday and were in constant dialogue with him, regarding any concerns he had about Bahamian workers.

"As a company and as an executive we are totally available at all times to dialogue with the shop stewards and or Mr. Grey at any time," Mr. Dalgleish told the Journal.

"…All the information related to these items have been given to Mr. Grey, the Department of Labour, shop stewards and other interested parties."

According to Mr. Dalgleish, said he wanted to know how Mr. Grey would know who is qualified for the positions the company had opened.

Mr. Dalgleish said the company constantly monitors and looks for indicators to see if the [Bahamian] workers are qualified. He said only two Bahamians applied for the posts.

Mr. Holding, meanwhile, added, "As apart of our protocol with our trade unions we gave Mr. Grey on Tuesday morning a full explanation as to why we thought that the two applicants were not suited for those positions."

As indicated, Mr. Grey also claimed that Bahamians were not being trained onsite.

Although he acknowledged that the shipyard has an apprenticeship programme through the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute, he claimed the company does not have training onsite for technical jobs that go past the usual welding and pipefitting jobs.

"There is no training going on at the shipyard as far as Bahamians are concerned….their policy is not to train Bahamians so they [the foreign workers] can stay. …The union can no longer allow these things to happen. They promise to train Bahamians for these positions and it is not happening," Mr. Grey said.

Mr. Holding said that on June 30 of this year he and Mr. Grey agreed to meet on August 2, to discuss training programmes and other concerns. But Mr. Grey said they have always had meetings and nothing has come to fruition.

"The union will not rest until it achieves a policy between the parties that will reduce the number of expatriates to the level that will Bahamianize the shipyard in accordance with the heads of agreement," Mr. Grey said.

Mr. Dalgleish maintained, however, that he is not against the promotion of Bahamians, but against the promotion of people who are not qualified regardless of nationality. He also claimed there is a much higher ratio of Bahamian supervisors at the shipyard than there are at most companies.

Out of the 602 employees at the shipyard, 236 are reportedly Bahamians.

By: Courtnee Romer, The Bahama Journal

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