NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) will not interfere with the hiring processes of Wärtsilä but will invoke the right of employees to unionize, said BEWU President Paul Maynard yesterday.
Maynard’s comments follow a meeting the union had with a representative of the Finnish technology group.
“The union is not going to interfere,” Maynard told Eyewitness News Online.
“We met with [Wärtsilä] and their HR people is going to be coming down in short order.
“We don’t want to interfere with their processes…We ain’t stopping them from doing nothing. This their show.
“But we want to see the benefits and compensation package that they are offering to their new staff and we invoked our right to unionize that staff.”
Maynard continued: “That power station is owned by the Bahamian people, on a unionized compound, owned by a unionized company.
“So you ain’t ga’ come in here, just because you produced it, and believe the staff here can’t be unionized, because if they want to, they will be.”
In March, the government announced that it had signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at the Clifton Pier Power Station.
Following the announcement, Maynard expressed concerns that Bahamians would be treated as “second class citizens” during the installation process.
According to BPL’s Executive Director Patrick Rollins, there are about 100 workers from the Finnish company working alongside Bahamian workers attempting to meet the December 15 deadline.
Last month, Wärtsilä announced openings for 27 Bahamian operators at Station A to make up the vast majority of the maximum 31 employees at the plant.
The new job openings will be made available to BPL employees who are qualified and choose to apply to work at the station for Wärtsilä.
When Station A is fully integrated into the grid, officials expect customers will see a substantial improvement in the power generation reliability in New Providence, and a lower fuel charge on their monthly billing in the months to come.