NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) expressed disappointment over the prime minister’s comments directed at some in the business community regarding lay-offs.
BCCEC chairman Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson said in a statement that employers are having to make difficult decisions to protect the future of the economy and businesses.
“The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) is disappointed to hear comments directed at the private sector during the press conference held April 19th 2020,” the statement read.
“The private sector is the economic driver of the Bahamian economy. It provides jobs for the majority of the Bahamian workforce. The Bahamas cannot rebound and have a robust economic environment post COVID-19 unless businesses survive this health and economic crisis.
It continued: “Every day the business community is having to make difficult decisions that has impacted some of its employees after not having the ability to generate revenue for over four weeks. Many business owners, small, medium and large are trying to find ways to keep their staff employed as long as possible, including dipping into their own pocket to meet the need. The BCCEC commends our members for these efforts.”
During a national address on Sunday Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis made a strong plea to business owners who are in a strong financial position to do so, to hold off from laying off employees for as long as possible.
Minnis said he was disappointed by reports of firings of longstanding workers who would have sacrificed to build the wealth of their employers.
To this, he said: “Are you humane? Do you have a soul…where is your heart…or do you have a heart?”
Rutherford-Ferguson noted that despite the inability to generate revenue or revenue reduction, many BCCEC members have chosen to keep their employees engaged during this time.
“Some have been forced to furlough and others have had to make difficult decisions to lay off workers, many of which are like family. What we must remember is that these lay-offs are temporary and it is the intent of employers to reengage these employees in the future,” the statement read.
“None of these decisions have come easily. However the decision was made with a view of protecting the future of the economy and businesses. Only businesses that survive this crisis will be able to stimulate the economy by providing future jobs for Bahamians.”
“It is a major sacrifice that local and international business owners have made to support the health and safety measures that are currently in place. Some of these business owners will lose their life’s work and savings as a result.”
It added: “The BCCEC supports its membership as we struggle to make wise decisions, maintain our employee compliment, and prepare for the future economic direction of the Bahamas post COVID-19 as we navigate these uncertain times particularly with no clear indication of when or how the economy will reopen.”