|More Urban Renewal workers to reportedly lose jobs|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jun 22, 2012
At least 75 Urban Renewal workers will lose their jobs at the end of June after the government told them their contracts will not be renewed, according to Free National Movement (FNM) Chairman Charles Maynard, who claims the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is victimizing those workers because of their political affiliation.
Maynard said 35 of the workers are attached to Urban Renewal offices in New Providence and 41 are in Grand Bahama.
Some of the irate workers, who yesterday received letters advising that their contracts would not be renewed after June 30, told The Nassau Guardian that the news came as a shock and has left most of them confused.
“I’m honestly still numb and to know that the rest of my colleagues and myself - there are so many of us - [are] without jobs and we have families,” said Fox Hill Urban Renewal Center Acting Manager Cornelia Taylor.
“I’m a single mother with two kids. Where do we go from here? How do we move on from this point? Your political affiliation should have nothing to do with your work performance and the way that you perform because we live in a democratic society. Whoever we support should not come before your work and your work ethic.”
Englerston Urban Renewal Center Acting Manager Pamela Miller said she has no idea what she will do after June 30.
“The reality is we were never given any kind of warning,” Miller said.
“When the police came in the centers we knew that they were coming based on what we heard on the news media and the print media and the social networks. But we have not gotten that from our bosses. Not a single person told us...that this would happen.”
Fox Hill Urban Renewal Center Office Assistant Jason Springer said instead of helping those in need, the workers will now be among those who will require assistance.
“Bread was taken out of our mouths,” he said. “These people have children and grandchildren that depend on the salaries of the Urban Renewal Programme.”
The workers said many times they used their own resources and money to help needy Bahamians who walked into Urban Renewal offices over the past five years seeking help.
They said they have built relationships with people in the various communities, particularly with the children, and have personal knowledge of the needs in their respective areas.
The workers fear that those relationships will be now shattered.
“I take great offense when they come and just give you a letter saying that you will not be renewed because you don’t believe in their vision and mission,” Springer said.
According to the workers, only the contracts of eight people will be renewed. They claimed that those eight people are all PLP supporters.
Maynard yesterday urged Prime Minister Perry Christie not to send the workers home.
“In these tough economic times, to allow somebody to hit the unemployment line is, to me, unconscionable,” he said. “You can’t in one breath say that you put Bahamians first and on the other hand allow these Bahamian families to be caught in that kind of situation. Additionally, if what you want to do through your Urban Renewal Programme is impact the community, why would you dismiss these people who already have that connection to the community, who have been working with the community for a number of years, [who] have all the contacts with the various stakeholders in the community? Why would you dismiss them? Why would you set the program back like that?
“It’s fine and dandy that you’ve brought the police in to assist. But at the same time, those persons who would have been in the trenches in these various Urban Renewal offices, why would you get rid of them?”
When contacted on Wednesday night, Works and Urban Development Minister Philip Brave Davis said the government reserves the right not to renew certain contracts.
Davis, who is also deputy prime minister, said no victimization will take place.
“In response to the allegations made, workers who are said to be in the Urban Renewal Programme were advised, properly so, that their contract and services end June 30 as per the contract upon which they were engaged,” he explained.
“We have launched our Urban Renewal 2.0 and going forward we reserve the right to be able to interview persons to ensure that they understand and are willing to carry out our Urban Renewal 2.0 initiative.
“We will be engaging in that process in short order and those persons who would have been in the program will be entitled to seek to be reengaged.”
However, Maynard yesterday accused the PLP of systematic victimization in every area of the public service.
“It is a pattern that we’re seeing now throughout the government service,” he said. “And we as the Free National Movement are not going to sit down and allow the Progressive Liberal Party to victimize Bahamians for political reasons or any other reason.”