NASSAU, BAHAMAS — At least four companies have indicated their desire to terminate employees, according to Labour Director John Pinder, who said one Grand Bahama company plans to terminate around 100 workers.
This comes after British Colonial Hilton made nearly 30 workers redundant on Tuesday — the first in a potential wave of firings as a result of the economic downturn.
“There are about four in total,” Pinder told Eyewitness News.
“A business in Freeport is looking at about 100 persons, but nobody is more than that.
“I’m hearing there is a major employer here that may do 300, but I haven’t see that in writing as yet.”
The country’s economy has been stalled over the past three months as a result of the total shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Pinder said he believes some employers will seek to use this period as an opportunity to rightsize their businesses.
“People are saying that they just don’t have the financial resources to continue to carry the total complement of staff that they need, and so when they find themselves having to make financial decisions they start letting people go,” he said.
“And that’s the only thing everybody is saying.”
To support the COVID-19 response for a three-month period, the government allocated just over $120 million to support the public health system; social initiatives; grants and subsidized loans for small businesses; and payroll support for large employers to prevent further layoffs.
The government also plans to accept a $25 million Inter-American Development Bank loan to help fund micro and small to medium-sized enterprises, as part of a $50 million effort to help these businesses with Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 recovery.
Pinder continued: “There are about four that have come to us so far, who are saying that they are going to do that. We were hoping that the extension of 30 more days as a grace period would have solved the problem, or would have caused them to reconsider any level of solvency or termination.
He added: “But some persons are taking this as an opportunity to restructure…in my view, to downsize and restructure.”
Pinder stressed Bahamians must work harder even if they are not compensated to increase their value to employers.
“We consistently say to Bahamians, make it very difficult for the employer to want to part with you,” he said.
“You have to be that much [more] productive and that much willing to go beyond the call of duty, and in some cases you may not even get the proper compensation for going beyond the call of duty, but it could cause the employer to make the right decision on you when it’s needed.
Pinder said: “I know some people will take advantage of this opportunity to rightsize, downsize, or get rid of the not so productive people.
“And in some cases the longer you are on your job the more it will cost your employers at the end of your career.
He added: “People are making pragmatic business decisions right now that may not be in the interest of the worker. We hope that they will be fair. The government has surely reached out to the employers to try as best as they can to accommodate them and we hope they will reciprocate that by accommodating the workers.”