NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Labour Minister Dion Foulkes yesterday expressed optimism that axed Bobcat Bahamas employees will find alternative employment opportunities as the company and its affiliate Cavalier Construction heads into liquidation.
Speaking with reporters outside of Cabinet yesterday, Foulkes said: “I want to confirm that Cavalier Construction company gave notice to me last week pursuant to law that they were closing and that also includes the Bobcat operation. It affected some 54 employees.
“The Department of Labour and a team of our officers are working with Cavalier to ensure that all of the benefits under the law are given to all 54 employees.”
He continued: “This is a very sad time for those employees and their families and we encourage all of the employees to register with the Department of Labour. There are many construction job opportunities that are available in the family islands and in Nassau so if they can register with us I am sure that some of them will find alternative employment.
“I would also 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 Construction Company Limited and its sister company Bobcat Bahamas, which fall under the Galaxy Group umbrella, ceased trading on January 15.
It’s employees 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,” read a statement from Cavalier Construction.
“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,” the statement continued.
“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 also noted that Cavalier Construction did not have sufficient cash reserves to 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 company said.
“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 the affairs of both businesses.”
Cavalier, one of the country’s leading construction firms has been building throughout the Bahamas since 1956.
Bobcat Bahamas was formed in May 2001 and was a well-known heavy duty equipment service provider.