Christie says if he was PM he would not fire Bahamians like Ingraham

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Perry Christie, Leader of the Opposition

PRESS CONFERENCE BY

RT. HON. PERRY G CHRISTIE MP

LEADER, PROGRESSIVE LIBERAL PARTY

PLP CONDEMNS GOVERNMENT’S HANDLING OF ZNS WORKERS

19 OCTOBER 2010

CHRISTIE: The Progressive Liberal Party condemns the callous and heartless manner in which the government has treated the long serving staff of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas (BCB). This government continues to demonstrate an uncanny lack of respect for ordinary working Bahamians, a commitment for putting things before the welfare of people, and placing the desires and ambitions of special interests above the needs of the many.

The government stands further condemned for its nasty and intolerable habit of vilifying ordinary hard working Bahamians just before initiating mass displacements, needlessly destroying their careers and disrupting their lives and the lives of their families. These unforgivable and redundant attacks on Bahamians who have given much of themselves in the development of this country form a pattern of behavior by the FNM that is unbecoming of a government and must stop.

It is important to note that it was this same Prime Minister who publicly threatened to dismantle The Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas during the run up to the 1992 and 2007 General Elections; he is now making good on his threat. I, as I am sure many Bahamians did, watched in horror as a large majority of those terminated who had given so much of their lives to the nation through the corporation were treated like common thugs and criminals. Even though they acted professionally and non-violently, they were being escorted to their desks to collect their belongings and then escorted by the police out of the gate, creating the specter of criminality. This undermines the essence of human existence – DIGNITY

These people gave the most productive years of their lives to the corporation, working day and night, rain or shine to literally link this chain of islands together into one family through effective communication. This exercise is not broadcasting reform; this is a callous and heartless gutting of a public corporation with no readily available transition plan in place.

The PLP is different from the FNM. Following the 2002 General Elections when faced with similar prospects, the PLP reallocated the manpower and made provisions for temporary staff to upgrade themselves so that they become permanent and pensionable. These policy decisions were made and executed with no adverse effects to the public service or public corporations. Care was always taken to protect the dignity of these public servants and enhance the human capital. THE PLP NEVER DID AND WILL NEVER become engaged in a campaign of slander against the reputation of our valuable workers to achieve a political end.

The vague explanation given by the government that the downsizing of ZNS is designed to create a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) can only be perceived as a red herring as the Government has failed to articulate a model and a comprehensive business plan outlining the new structure and function for this so called PBS. Further, the FNM has failed to make the case that shows a clear distinction between what ZNS now does and the so called PBS that they plan to implement. The fact is that notwithstanding that it sells commercials it is a public broadcasting service.

As for the Northern Service, all indications are that there will be substantial reductions in the role and function of ZNS 3 in the north. Another distinction between the PLP and the FNM is we recognize that there is a need for a ZNS to help hold the country together. ZNS Northern Service is not a commercial venture, it is meant to be part of the cultural fabric of the country, linking one part to the next. It is crucial in an island chain that we find and strengthen the ties that bind, not only in an economic sense, but using the media to help build our country as one unit in the minds and activities of our people.

Notwithstanding what the Prime Minister says the PLP points out that the severance packages offered to the severed and disengaged workers of ZNS were not comparable to the packages offered to other civil servants who were fired or separated. As suggested by the Bishop of the Anglican Church of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands in his charge at the opening of the Anglican Synod last night, the government must always be seen to be fair and even-handed in all of its dealings. To add insult to injury, the Prime Minister had the unmitigated gall to suggest that the workers of ZNS were ungrateful as they stood up for their rights and demanded parity.

Further, the politically convenient excuse given by the Government that it is fiscally challenged is wearing thin and is duplicitous at best. The Government can find moneys to support special interests in the form of generous subsidies for a container port (some $26 million), the purchase of private buildings and docks, and $10 million per mile for a highwayto accommodate foreign special interests, an amount that is excessive by international standards.

The PLP publicly questions whether this downsizing exercise is part and parcel of some secret agreement the government has entered into with the International Monetary Fund to reduce the size of both the public service and public corporations. If this is so, the government is duty bound to come clean and advise the Bahamian people.

The PLP again reminds the FNM that the only role of good government is the care, protection, and happiness of the citizenry, and not their destruction. Certainly there is a better, more palatable and humane way to reform the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas.

Thousands gather to greet PLP Leader Perry Christie. File Photo

  • Hey “The government” who’s the fairy Godmother?

  • what i wanna know is why da hell bec is allowed to double up on people rent, my people light bill escalate like they have a disco underneath their homes, bec is rediculous. where in god name are we supposed to pay these monies from with what and how. what next will happen…this country is in a bigger mess and perry dem want get back in to finish mess it up.smt!

    • we knows the power bill are copntrol by the fuel price, don’t we? I live in freeport, by making sure all unnecessary switch is off, washing once aweek and taking clothe to commercial dryer and pay 8-10 dollars a week to dry, putting a timer on water heater, ironing once a week, put timer on security lightss , i have taken my power bill from $3-400 per month to around $180. Let me ask how many peoeple Cable is off or phone or internet?
      We just need to take more care and manage our homes and children 24/7 and stop wasting power and then expecting govt to pay your bill….if you use you should pay it….control is the watch word here ok…..stop living BIG get REAL

  • the problem is in this country is toooo much politics, everybody wants a government job, why? for the slackness and perks. The whole world is now tunning down, things have to change, change is the most constant thing in this life. 20-30 years from now we wont even remember who was hubert or perry or even arawak homes. we must remeber to always make plans and SAVE. we are a wicked confused bunch who always cry oh lord, but never seek to truely help our own families and friends, we are a group of vipers and vampires, been lead by some wicked men of the clothe and dishonest politicans

  • mssmith, IT IS OBVIOUS THAT YOU HAVE A JOB. I’VE UNDERSTOOD EVERY POINT YOU’VE MADE, BUT CLEARLY, THIS MATTER COULD HAVE BEEN HANDLED IN A MORE HUMANE MANNER. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THIS GOVERNMENT IS INCONSIDERATE AND SHOWS A LACK OF COMPASSION. I AM NOT BEEN PLAYED BY THE FORMER PRIME MINISTER. SHOULD YOU BE SENT HOME FROM YOUR JOB, WITHOUT BEING INFORMED WELL BEFORE HAND, WHAT WOULD YOU DO? HMMMM…ONLY HE WHO FEELS IT, KNOWS IT. ANYWAY..I SAID IT, AND WILL SAY IT AGAIN, IT AIN’T LONG NOWWWWWWWWW…..

  • Once again, all these FNM lovers (PLP haters) are missing the point. If someone was ‘tiefing’ the money, fire them! For the overbloated state, I hope the FNM truly assessed the needs of ZNS because some times you have bloat in some areas, and anemic in others. So although I understand the bloat in ZNS I do not endorse removing all these people at this time. $50,000 can go very quickly when you have mortgage, bills , school fees, health concerns etc. Some of these people are in their 50’s and over, so they probably will find it extremely difficult to get another job in this economy. We spent millions on roadworks and a new port- why are they more important than people’s lives and jobs now? I think they should have postponed the roadworks until the economy improved, and held on to these workers for at least one year. But I am just a concerned Bahamian citizen caring about my neighbour.
    And I don’t support the PLP, I just know that of the 2 evils, at least Perry will ensure that the black Bahamian is provided for (even if he is only doing it to look good),-he would do the right thing even though it may be for the wrong reason. Even the bible speaks of allowing questionable persons to preach, because they preaching Jesus CHrist, the most important thing.

  • you must be joking , no ZNS audit in 5 years….MAN PERRY GATTA GO AN STAY GONE….WHERE IS THE MONEY PERRY???????

  • This is just another day at the office for this Government. They did this same “redundancy dance” at NIB – 5 executives were given 2 days notice and sent home. Another executive was actually called back after work and was told that was her last day. BEC staff were treated he same way, so were persons in other Government agencies. At the same time, they can hire find jobs for their friends – a cabinet ministers’ lady was given a clerical job at NIB after she lost her job; the Deputy Chairman’s daughter was hired after she lost her job elsewhere. There is a day of reckoning.

    • stanley you are correct the minister of health made sure that his good lady friend was hired the job was not advertised so that existing staff members could apply. you know what the sad part about that was that both unions there did not say anything. The prime minister could have send at least three of ZNS former staff to N I B because Cargill Just Hired Three More PEOPLE. If you want a job at NIB YOU MUST BE A CATHOLIC OF LIKE A MINISTER OR BE ON THE OTHER SIDE LOL

    • The Day oF REckoning is here Patrick the snake Ward and Algernon soft boy Cargill time is coming There is just to much petty politics going on at NIB No promotions only if you Gossip with the fairy God Mother

  • No amount of screaming by ANYONE would have prevented Hubert the Horrible from dismissing the ZNS employees in the way he did. The man is an unrepentant, sadistic bull in the China shop. No doubt ZNS required downsizing, but for Hubert The Horrible to turn the exercise into a screaming,toe-curling ORGASM is a damn disgrace. Hubert The Horrible is the biggest disappointment this country has EVER experienced!

  • You know ,I read and listen to all these press statements and to me the OPPOSITION is laughable. In my opinion Christie knew exactly what Ingraham was about to do concerning ZNS , why the – IF I WAS PM I WOULD NOT HAVE … after the fact. PLEASE,PLEASE can you MR CHRISTE and MR INGRAHAM resist the urge to GRAND STAND at every opportunity.When its not BAHAMAR its ZNS ,ROAD IMPROVEMENT PROJECT etc. Stop playing POLITICS with peoples lives.

  • Eleuthera,

    No, you are being played by the Honorable Ex-Prime Minister.

    1) As a public entity, ZNS was required by law to publicly produce financial audits on a yearly basis. None were produced 2002-2007. How much and where did the money go?

    2) The staffing size was (and still is) outrageous by any standard throughtout the world.

    3) Please tell us that you believe ZNS did a good or even reasonable job. Or let’s put it this way: you own and have to personally pay for the entire operation. Your goal is not to make a profit, but to break even. Your product is shoddy, you are losing your shirt, your employees are grossly underworked. What would you do?

    4) The average compensation package was $50,000 plus one year’s healthcare. Would you have been so generous?

    5) No one except the fired employees, the inept union (by the way, where are all the dues they collected) and a few politicos acted irresponsibly. Their actions demonstrated the wisdom of being escorted off the premises (SOP BTW).

    We all await an intelligent response.

    • msmith, while everybody has a right to their opinion, nobody has a right to misrepresent the truth by rewriting history.

      The fact is that the financial accounts of ZNS were not audited for many years prior to 2002 and it took the auditors a very long time to audit ZNS while Obie was the minister responsible.

      On the issue “where the money went”, the Bridge Authority was not audited from its inception until the PLP came to office in 2002. The records were in shambles with no followable paper trails in place. Auditing that corporation also proved to be a challenge for the auditors. So ZNS did fulfill its mandate under the law during the last 5 years of the PLP. Don’t take my word for it, just check the public records.

      ZNS did a reasonable job for a public broadcasting company. It linked the Bahamas in many unprofitable markets in the family islands. It performed a reasonable public service the way Bahamasair did. ZNS did what private for profit companies would not do.

      As for compensation, the unions and those separated said that the separation package was not comparable to the packages given to other civil servants. Thay claim that the packages were equivalent to 3 to 6 months pay.

      The other stuff you wrote are hyperbole and you are entitled to that.

      I end where I started. I reiterate that nobody has the right to misrepresent the truth by rewriting history.

  • MY GOD WHAT A SHAME!! THE PAIN INFLICTED BY THIS VICIOUS GOVERNMENT IS BECOMING SO UNBEARABLE. BUT I SAY ONE THING: “WEEPING MAY ENDURE BUT FOR A NIGHT, BUT JOY COMETH IN THE MORNING.” HOLD ON BAHAMAS, IT AIN’T LONG NOW!”