Sixty-eight Barbados Light & Power Company (BL&P) employees, who opted for early retirement and voluntary separation packages, are going home at month-end.
Human Resources Manager Roger Babooram made the announcement today at a media conference where he reported declining sales in a changing market, which is soon to be liberalized and where a switch is already underway from traditional fossil fuels to renewable energy as the major source of electricity.
Babooram said the workers originally were scheduled to leave today but, out of respect for a meeting of the Social Partnership earlier today, the company decided to postpone their departure until the end of this month.
With their departure, the company will complete the voluntary aspect of a restructuring exercise aimed at improving efficiency and competitiveness. Babooram said the company was in the process of assessing what sort of cost savings will be realized from the voluntary separation exercise.
Asked to give the total number of workers to be made redundant during the restructuring exercise, Babooram said: “As we told the Social Partnership this morning, come early next week we will be writing to the Barbados Workers Union and Chief Labour Officer, outlining our plans for redundancies. At this point in time, I cannot give you an exact number, but of course that will be coming shortly.”
Recalling that retired general secretary of the BWU, Senator Sir Roy Trotman, had taken the company’s management to task for ignoring the provisions of Employment Rights Act and the Social Partnership arrangement prior to announcing its downsizing plans, Babooram gave the assurance that BL&P will remain an active and committed partner of the social partnership arrangement.
“We are committed to the Social Partnership, we are committed to the Government, our customers and employees. Nothing has changed with that. We will continue to ensure that we operate very safely and in the best interest of our stakeholders,” the BL&P spokesman said.
Babooram explained that the restructuring process was about ensuring the company “remains viable, sustainable and adaptive to change”.
Citing declining sales in a market which is seeing a shift from the use of fossil fuels to renewable energy, the senior manager said: “Our core business is really selling electricity. In recent times, our sales have been gradually decreasing. Actually right now, our sales are minus four per cent between the period 2007 -2014.”
“If you compare that to the prior decade, we had 51 per cent sales growth. So you can see a drastic decrease in our sales growth. Not only that, but we are faced with a number of challenges at the present.” Babooram added.
He listed these challenges as an economy which has been declining over the past seven years, high levels of unemployment and the imminent introduction of the Electric Light and Power Act which is expected to liberalize the energy market.
He said they were contributing to declining sales.