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Road workers stage second protest

  • Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles employee Dwight Goodman (left) and other workers share their discontent with their employer.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Nov 04, 2011

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For the second time this week, a group of workers on the New Providence Road Improvement Project has demonstrated against working conditions.

Yesterday, 10 workers met in front of the headquarters of Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles off the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre road.

The workers claimed they are overworked and underpaid.

"We are disgruntled men working in our own town and[we are]not being treated fairly by our own,"said Dwight Goodman, one of the workers.

"Our pay isn't satisfying [and] someone needs to stand up for us."

Quincy Jacques, another worker, said he noticed errors with his pay from February of this year.

He claimed the Argentinian firm made no attempts to correct those errors when he brought the concerns before it.

Public Works Minister Neko Grant noted after the first protest on Tuesday that more than 600 people--mostly Bahamians--are employed on the project. But only a small group is complaining.

"There are supposed to be way more people out here protesting," one worker claimed yesterday.

He said that 80 to 90 workers have been complaining about working conditions and he was disappointed by their absence yesterday.

Candidates from the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) were present, however.

Rodney Moncur, DNA candidate for Bain and Grants Town, said, "I think 50 percent of the problem can be resolved if there is a labor officer on-site."

He said this would allow better communication between the workers and the officials.

Wayne Monroe, DNA candidate for Mount Moriah, added, "I think every single Bahamian should be upset at this. I don't care what your political persuasion is.

"What we intend to do is to see these men's contracts and scrutinize their paychecks. We need to see what legal avenues are open to them."

Munroe, an attorney by profession, criticized the government which he claimed has "reduced us back to the plantation".

Grant, who spoke with The Nassau Guardian via telephone yesterday, said that if the workers have doubts about their pay or working conditions, they should file a complaint with the Ministry of Works.

"We have a minister[of labour Dion Foulkes who]is very responsive to these matters,"he said.

Grant said he (Grant) has yet to look into the concerns of the workers.

However, he said, "They spoke about the method used to pour the sidewalks. Very seldom do you see sidewalks where the wire mesh is used, because the concrete produced has the wire mesh in it already.

"It is clear that many of them that spoke did not know what they were doing or what they were talking about."

Concerning the language barrier and the issue of an on-site labor officer, Grant said that the government employed Mott MacDonald Ltd. to act as supervising consultants on the project.

Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles officials have remained silent despite the protests.

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