#TheBahamas, June 28, 2021 – Bahamas Power and Light Company Limited (BPL) values and appreciates its line staff, many of whom have gone and continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that our customers are serviced even in these trying and sometimes frightening times. The Company seeks always to treat our staff with respect and dignity, and to reward them according to their work and the terms of the Industrial Agreement. BPL takes exception, however, to a number of claims made during an illegal industrial action taken at the Peter I. Bethel Building today, Monday, June 28, 2021.
It was falsely claimed that Executive management has refused to sit with the line union and discuss employee benefits. The union president has, in fact, met with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Executive Director (ED) and the Director of Human Resources (DHR) many times including a meeting that was held in the training room with Union Executives, BPL Board and BPL Executives.
The Company rejects the assertion that benefits have been denied to “many deserving employees.” The Company also rejects the assertion that there exists at BPL an environment of “gross favoritism,” unfair promotions, unfair hiring practices, and what were called “reckless skip-overs.”
It was said that most departments in the main HQ have been affected by COVID19, and that more than once CEO has shut down remote workspace, forcing people to come and work in office. We have established our COVID19 protocols in accordance with recommendations of the health professionals and communicated those protocols to employees and their union representatives.
The Company was also accused of “forcing” some Abaco staff to go home.
Following the passing of Hurricane Dorian, BPL was the first to provide private air services for the evacuation of employees who wanted to leave Abaco and their families. The employees were temporarily assigned throughout the operations in New Providence and to a lesser degree, the Family Islands, with the understanding that they were expected to return as needed in Abaco. In September 2020, the employees of Abaco that remained in New Providence were advised of the need for them to return to their duties in Abaco on November 1, 2020. Following a request from the employees and their Union representatives to have employees remain until April 30, 2021, employees were advised to return to Abaco on June 1, 2021.
We note that reference was made to various legal matters, including a reference to “questionable pension transactions and deductions”, “examination of the validity of a VSEP document and the rules by which the VSEP was carried out,” unaddressed claims of sexual harassment, unilateral changes to employee benefits, unilateral changes to job descriptions, variation of working conditions and failure to promote.
Firstly, pension deductions are part of the direct contribution plan which only new employees have joined since 2018 and they determine how much they wish to voluntarily contribute. Contributions are deducted from their salary with their consent. And while we do not wish to comment further on matters before the court, we will say that BPL has conducted a number of promotions over the past year.
We deny, however, that the Company has “virtually disregarded” the Industrial Agreement which the union believes to be properly valid. The Industrial Agreement provides a mechanism for the settlement of disputes or breaches of the agreement, which include notification of one party to the other prior to the involvement of a third party.
Finally, the assertion that BPL Station A plant, which is operated and managed by Wӓrtsilӓ, is “becoming unreliable” and “constantly running out of fuel” flies in the face of the truth and the record. Both SAIDI and SAIFI – industry standard metrics dealing with reliability of electricity supply – have significantly improved and Station A has and continues to be a reason for this improvement in reliability. In addition, we reported a short time ago that a senior Wӓrtsilӓ official conducted an operational audit at Station A to ensure the best operation and utmost reliability of the plant. As a consequence, the company has implemented new systems designed to ensure the efficient operation of the plant.
And with regard to the assertion that there are “holes” in the load shedding forecast, the engines cited by the union president were not included in the count given by the Minister of Public Works in the House of Assembly. Without the engines the union president cited, we are still able to account for between 315 – 350 megawatts of power against a 250 megawatt summer peak load. If all things remain equal, we are confident that load shedding will not be necessary.
K. Quincy Parker, Director, Public Relations
Prime Minister Hon. Philip Davis pledges to govern in the interests of all Bahamians
#TheBahamas, September 19, 2021 – During his ceremonial swearing-in today as the nation’s fifth Prime Minister, Hon. Philip Davis pledged to govern in the interests of all Bahamians and to consult widely with the Bahamian people.
The best way to make progress as a nation is to bring people together, said Prime Minister Davis, who was presented with his instruments of Office in ceremonies held at the Baha Mar Convention Centre, on Saturday 18 September 2021.
“We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that it’s not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people,” said the Prime Minister.
“There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us.”
Prime Minister Davis said that while there are big challenges ahead for The Bahamas, his team has the right vision and policies to take the country forward.
The Prime Minister said the new administration is coming into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.
The country faces many crises due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an economy in decline and deeply concerning challenges in education, said Prime Minister Davis.
If everyone works together towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are possible for The Bahamas and its people, said the Prime Minister.
But no government can do great things on its own, Prime Minister Davis added.
“I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people,” said the Prime Minister.
“We are going to listen, we are going to consult widely and we are going to bring people together.”
18 September 2021
Office of the Prime Minister
Commonwealth of The Bahamas
PRESS RELEASE: Prime Minister Minnis Thanks Bahamians for the Last Four Years
#TheBahamas, September 18, 2021 – Free National Movement (FNM) Party Leader, Hubert A. Minnis thanked Bahamians for the last four years in tonight’s concession speech:
“Tonight I spoke with Leader of the Progressive Liberal Party Philip Davis and offered my congratulations to him and his party on their victory at the polls. I offered him my best wishes as his Government now faces the continued fight against COVID-19, and the restoration of our economy.
I would like to thank the tens of thousands of Bahamians from across The Bahamas who voted for Free National Movement candidates. I also congratulate the FNM candidates who won seats in the House of Assembly. I am in that number, and again my gratitude goes out to the people of Killarney for making me their representative for the fourth consecutive time.
I will lead the Free National Movement into the House as the leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. The Bahamas has a proud democratic tradition. The people decide who serves as government. Our party presented its vision for the future to Bahamians from the northern islands of Grand Bahama and Abaco, all the way to the southern islands of MICAL.
The people determined that they preferred the Progressive Liberal Party. My party and I accept that result. We are proud of our record the past four-plus years.
During our term we faced the most difficult times in Bahamian history. In September 2019, Abaco, the Abaco Cays and Grand Bahama were struck by the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas. Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest storms recorded on our planet. It caused generational destruction to our northern islands. Six months later, we were in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Throughout each crisis my Government worked hard to assist the Bahamian people. On the northern islands we have had to rebuild roads, water systems, schools, docks, bridges and other critical infrastructure.
In the pandemic, we provided tens of millions of dollars per month in food and unemployment benefits to citizens, along with tax credits to businesses. We fought hard to secure more than half a million doses of three of the best vaccines in the world.
The FNM has a proud legacy. We have governed The Bahamas over four terms. Our philosophy is to use the resources of government to provide opportunity to those who have historically been without. That is why we invested in free preschool, providing early education to thousands of children. That is why we invested in free tertiary education at the University of The Bahamas and BTVI.
That is why we created the Over-the-Hill initiative to benefit people in grassroots communities with tax concessions and development assistance. That is why we invested record amounts in Family Island infrastructure. That is why we created the Small Business Development Centre, extending millions of dollars to help Bahamians realize their dreams.
Our belief in the Bahamian people was also evidenced in the manifesto we ran on in this election. We pledged a Universal School Meals Program, expanded access to afterschool programs, $250 million to Bahamian small businesses over five years, expanded access to Crown Land, support for the arts and agriculture and fisheries, along with many more policies for the people.
We did not win this time. But I say to the next generation of FNMs that you should stay firm to this party’s founding ideals. Always put the people first, and be honest in government.
The people have asked us to be the opposition. We will ensure the people’s resources are spent properly. We will ensure there is accountability. We will oppose when necessary. We will agree when the Government’s plans are in the best interests of the people.
I thank my wife Patricia and my family for supporting me during this term, and throughout my life. I also thank the officers, members and supporters of the Free National Movement for their assistance and encouragement during my time as leader.
And to the Bahamian people, I say a warm and heartfelt thank you for my time being your Prime Minister. You are a strong, hardworking and resilient people. Hurricane Dorian did not break you. The pandemic has not broken you.
You trust in the God who has brought us this far. Trust that He will bring us further to brighter times. Again, thank you. And may God bless the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
BAHAMAS: PM Philip Davis Swearing In Speech
THE HON. PHILIP DAVIS, M.P., QC,
ON THE OCCASION OF
HIS CEREMONIAL SWEARING-IN AS
PRIME MINISTER OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS
SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 19TH, 2021
BAHA MAR BALLROOM
Your Excellency, the Governor-General; First
Lady, Ann Marie Davis, Deputy Prime Minister
Elect, I. Chester Cooper and Mrs. Cooper, Honourable and Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I wish to thank the Bahamian people who turned out and voted resoundingly for change.
As I said on Thursday night, you voted with brave hearts, and you voted with hearts full of hope for our country.
It was unfortunate that many Bahamians who wished to participate in this election were not able to do so. It was the first time in modern Bahamian history that so many voters were disenfranchised – and I hope it is the last. The right to vote is the essential right in a democracy.
Our new administration comes into office at a time when the Bahamian people are hurting as never before.
In recent months, as I travelled the length and breadth of our beautiful country, many people shared with me their stories of hardship and need and despair.
Against that backdrop, we face the many crises borne out of the Covid-19 pandemic: tragic numbers of our people are becoming ill and dying; our hospitals in a state of collapse; our doctors and nurses and other frontline workers pleading for support to shore up our healthcare system.
The economy is also in decline, as we face an historically high deficit and debt. The news of the downgrade yesterday underscores the severity of the fiscal crisis and the urgency of moving quickly to address it.
The challenges in education also deeply concern me. Thousands of young Bahamians have missed out on their education during the past few years, first because of the displacement caused by Hurricane Dorian, then because of the way the Covid-19 crisis has been managed. These are indeed big challenges.
Some have questioned why we want to serve when the problems are so difficult. But my team and I offered ourselves for public service precisely because these problems are so difficult – and precisely because we believe that we have the right vision, the right policies, and the right team to take this country forward. We will not fail if we keep the best interests of the Bahamian people as our guiding north star.
As a young boy growing up in Cat Island, I faced many hardships and obstacles. I know what it is to be poor.
As a young man trying to find his first job, I faced doors that seemed always slammed shut. I know what it is to feel disappointment. As a lawyer trying to build a practice, I missed out on many opportunities because I didnt have the right connections.
I know what its like to be on the outside looking in. In my family life, I know the ups and downs of raising children and sending them out into the world. I am determined to take the wisdom gained from these experiences and use it to help others. It is possible to overcome. It is possible to work hard and succeed. It is possible to forgive. And it is possible to bring about the changes you wish to see.
These are the values that will inform my decisions in office. In just under two years time, we will celebrate fifty years of The Bahamas being a fully independent, sovereign nation. We must begin to deliver more purposefully the promise of Independence. Independence is more than freedom from rule by others. It is the defining purpose of our country, which says that every one of us is entitled to reach our fullest potential.
And so each day we will ask ourselves: What can we do to ensure that the aspirations and hopes of the Bahamian people are translated into opportunities and paths to success? Deep in my heart I know that with God, all things are possible”.
If we work together, towards a common purpose, in the common interest and for the common good, great things are indeed possible for our country and our people. But no government can do great things on its own. I am sure that my government can only succeed if we partner with the Bahamian people.
We are going to consult widely.
And we are going to bring people together.
That is the best way to make progress as a nation. No leader and no government should be isolated from the people.
I also commit to lifting the veil of secrecy on that which has gone before us, so that all of the arrangements under which we have to live are transparent, and those who authored them are accountable. We will govern in the interests of all Bahamians, not just the privileged few. We will act in ways that rebuild trust between the government and the Bahamian people. We will uphold the constitution and the rule of law, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly, so that its not one rule for one set of people, and another for another set of people.
There is much work to be done; but I know that by working together, we can succeed and build the kind of prosperous, independent Bahamas that our founding fathers dreamed for us. It will not happen overnight, but with steady progress, we will get there.
I pray God’s blessings and guidance upon us all, and in the words of St. Francis, “make us instruments of your peace; where there is discord, let me bring union; where there is doubt, let me bring faith; where there is despair, let me bring hope; where there is sadness, let me bring joy.”
I thank God for having blessed us with this beautiful country, and the bountiful birthright which we have inherited.
I thank the many people over the years who have supported me to this moment, where I am able to step into servant leadership for the benefit of the Bahamian people.
I thank my family, especially my wife Ann, and my children, my siblings, Alvin, Don, Craig and Trevor, my one and only sister, Diane, who every day continue to give me so much love and support.
And I thank the Bahamian people who have placed their faith and confidence in me and my team.
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