Peter Turnquest speaks to how GB Power has brought nothing but increased electricity bills, unabated power outages and successive redundancies and replacements of qualified Bahamians with expatriates



Peter Turnquest fights for GB workers fired at GB Power!

Nassau, Bahamas — It is with great sadness and disappointment that we learned of the loss of approximately twenty jobs at the Grand Bahama Power Company, without warning or notice we are told. Job losses that Grand Bahama and the Bahamas as a whole could ill afford as we struggle to recover from the devastating 2008 – 2011 recession, following the destructive hurricanes of 2004.

On behalf of the residents of East Grand Bahama affected by these terminations in particular and Grand Bahamians in general, who have suffered long and patiently with continued power outages and sustainability high electricity bills, we call upon the GBPC to reconsider their seemingly abrupt and untimely actions and try to find other ways in which to reduce cost, if in fact this is the motivation.

When Emera was allowed to invest in Grand Bahama, it would have been on the premise and commitment that they were a successful company with the resources and expertise to upgrade our aging utility plant and to provide clean, efficient and reliable lower energy cost. It would have been successfully argued that they had a plan to provide sustainable alternative forms of energy to curtail run away fuel cost and minimize efficiency losses. That it understood the tremendous social and moral obligations that would accrue to a monopoly in a small island such as ours with a defined consumer base, limited internal financing opportunities and the role it must necessarily play as a major partner in economic growth and sustainability. To date, however as an investor and operator, Emera has brought nothing but increased electricity bills, unabated power outages and successive redundancies and replacements of qualified Bahamians with expatriates. Bahamians who have previously performed admirably and competently for many years within the limitations imposed upon them by previous investors who failed to reinvest in the plant.

Many of these employees were patient while others assailed GBPC because it argued that it was upgrading, increasing efficiency and that career opportunities would result. Well enough is enough and we demand an explanation and proof that all that could be done, was in fact done to protect the jobs and livelihood of these Bahamian professionals. As shareholders in ICDU and internal and external stakeholders in Grand Bahama, we demand and deserve an explanation.

During the recent general elections, the then opposition party was very critical of the Free National Movement government for abandoning Bahamians in favour of foreigners. They promised that if elected, job losses would be stemmed and prosperity returned to Grand Bahama with Bahamians First. Well this is the Government’s first major test to demonstrate its commitment to the Bahamian people and Grand Bahamians in particular, that you are indeed true to your word and worthy of confidence for the next four years. It is time for you to act on behalf of these loyal and patriotic Grand Bahamians and demand their return to work.

We call upon the Minister for Grand Bahama to represent his constituents and ALL Grand Bahamians, acting in defense of these workers. In conjunction with the Minister of Labour, we demand to know if the Government was made aware of this planned action by GBPC in advance and what action they took to soften the blow felt today and if not, the plan now.

We can ill afford these job losses on Grand Bahama and the knock-on effects they will have on an already stressed economy. GBPC, do the right thing by your community.