Approximately ten workers at the Bridgetown Port Inc are expected to join the breadline at the end of this week as the agency concludes its “major rationalizing exercise”. They are the last of just over 100 employees to have parted ways with the company since it began a streamlining exercise about two years ago.
Chief Executive Officer David Jean-Marie said the exercise was part of the organization’s master plan to bring about greater efficiency and lower operating costs.
Jean-Marie, who spoke this morning at a ceremony to unveil $115 million improvements at the facility, said the process had gone smoothly.
“In terms of streamlining our operations, we have engaged in a process with the Barbados Workers Union in a major rationalizing exercise that is taking place without any rancor, without any industrial unrest. It was done in the spirit of cooperation and we have concluded the exercise and I don’t think anyone has had any issues,” he reported.
“We have done well. A number of persons have left the organization, whether due to attrition, voluntary separation and voluntary severance. And a few will be leaving by the end of this week by means of involuntary separation. But for the most part we have reorganized the operations and brought it quite into the 21st century and that has gone a long way towards streamlining the operations of the Bridgetown Port,” the Port executive added.
Jean-Marie later told the media that the severance would follow the traditional labour practice of last-in-first-out.
He said the separation had so far cost the company approximately $4 million and “all persons left with their entitlements” with those losing their jobs receiving counselling.
The Bridgetown Port currently employs about 480 people.
Jean-Marie said several meetings were held with the BWU, as Port officials sought to improve efficiency of the organization, pointing out that they have already started to see improvements in a number of areas, including customer service.
The $115 million upgrade of the facilities, which started in May 2015 and concluded last October, included the building of a fifth berth, 17 additional forklifts, two empty container handlers, and five electric straddle carriers.
In addition, a jetty was built at the shallow draught marina to accommodate up to 30 catamarans and yachts.
Jean-Marie said with the streamlining and acquisition of the new equipment the organization was well on its way to achieving its four main objectives under the ten-year master plan developed in 2011.
“Out of that master plan we said we would look at four critical objectives. One would be to modernize and transform this port facility; the second one would be to streamline the operations of the port – we are talking about the handling of ships, the handling of cargo, passenger experience as well as management of our real estate, of which the port has quite a bit; we also looked at and considered the need to have superb customers service and finally to build staff moral here at the port,” said Jean-Marie.