DNA Threatens Legal Action for NPRIP Workers
Mistreated, over-worked and underpaid workers of the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP) have been in talks with the Democratic National Alliance (DNA), namely candidates Rodney Moncur (Bain and Grants Town), Alfred Poitier (Kennedy) and Wayne Munroe (Mount Moriah) to determine a course of action regarding their working conditions.
“Despicable and disgraceful,” is how Moncur, last week, described the alleged treatment of Bahamians at the hands of the foreign owned Jose Cartellone Company.
“The New Providence Road Improvement Project is further proof of our Government’s total disregard for the rights of Bahamians.” Moncur says. “I cry shame, shame, shame on the Government and ever too late official opposition.”
In a recent meeting held between DNA candidates and NPRIP employees, skilled workers indicated that they are currently paid $6.50 an hour, while unskilled workers are paid $4.50 an hour. They further complained of working with dangerous and hazardous equipment without proper training.
On Wednesday, a skilled worker, who spoke anonymously in fear of being victimized by his employers, claimed that he received a $.25 raise after completing his probationary period.
“They talk to us like children, when most of the foreigners are younger than the workers here,” said the worker.
In a recent statement, Neko Grant, Minister of Works, said: “The government hired Jose Cartellone and they, in turn, hired the workers, so their (the workers) grievances are not government's responsibility.”
“How long will our long-suffering Bahamians be displaced by foreigners and treated as second class citizens in their own country? How long will the masses serve the minority of foreigners? Successive governments have failed to respect our people or allow them to maximize their true potential,” Moncur said.
This blatant disregard for the welfare of the nation’s most precious resource, the Bahamian people, prompted the DNA to write a letter to Minister of Labour, Dion Foulkes, earlier this week to schedule a meeting to discuss these pressing issues. A copy of this letter was also sent to the Minister of Immigration, Brent Symonette and Minister Grant.
There was no response.
Nevertheless, the DNA challenges the Ministers to call a transparent and immediate public investigation into the workers’ claims of abuse, poor or no training of hazardous equipment, work permit manipulations and that lack of Bahamian representation in supervisory positions.
Additionally, the Party demands that a cease and desist order be issued to the Jose Cartellone group to prevent any continued mistreatment, retaliation and victimization.
The DNA has launched its own investigation, which may result in criminal prosecution. Further details in this regard are forthcoming.
Moreover, the DNA reiterates that it is willing to meet with government leaders on this issue to protect the welfare of these Bahamian men and women, as their incomes and dignity has prominence over any road work project, hotels or foreign entities.