Five employees who were recently informed that their contracts with the Urban Renewal Programme would not be renewed when they expired at the end of the month demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the government during a peaceful protest outside the Ministry of Works and Urban Development on John F. Kennedy Drive yesterday.
The workers claim they were among a group of about 80 employees in total who were given letters on June 21 apprising them of the ministry’s decision to not renew their contracts.
However, the workers said after they went public with their story and questioned whether the action by the ministry was politically motivated, they received word that they could return to the ministry to reapply for their positions.
Cornelia Taylor, acting centre manager for the Urban Renewal Fox Hill Office, who was among the group of employees who showed up at the ministry yesterday morning, said that the employees were told Monday morning that they could not reapply because the official in charge of the programme was out of office.
Ms. Taylor said that the timing and the way the government went about making the decision seems fishy since only a select group of employees’ contracts were terminated and those employees told to reapply while other workers remain in their positions.
“My only concern is for the government to explain why wasn’t the entire body of Urban Renewal sent home and made to reapply,” she said.
“Why was it that just a select few who were sent home packing and now have to do this tedious process of coming here and reapplying while other people are still on the job? This is what we do not understand and we would really like for someone to come and explain that to us.”
The employees allege that they are being unfairly treated by the current administration because they are believed to be supporters of the Free National Movement (FNM).
Ms. Taylor, however, said that the employees’ only concern is carrying out the mandate of whatever administration is in power so that the needs of the communities that the programme serves will be met.
“We understand what Urban Renewal 2.0 is to this government because this was a platform they campaigned on,” Ms. Taylor said. “We are not here to jeopardise any programme.”
“We are here to do what is mandated regardless of politics. When we go out in to those communities we do not see red, yellow, green or white…we see people. They [the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP)] campaigned on believing in Bahamians, believing in The Bahamas so whatever mandate they have we will carry out.”
The group of employees said that while they have concluded that they will probably not be reinstated they would still like an explanation from the government as to why they were the ones whose contracts are not being renewed.
Furthermore, the group said that they have all received outstanding job performance evaluations with recommendations from their superiors to renew their contracts.
“What is it that you [the government] are doing or plan on doing that I cannot already do or be trained to do,” said Karen Brown, an employee with the Fort Charlotte Urban Renewal Office. “I am a Bahamian and I am qualified to do this job, so then why am I being treated so unfairly.”
The Bahama Journal made several calls to officials at the Ministry of Works and Urban Development but those calls were never answered.