In spite of the fact that the Grand Lucayan Resort is still closed, Grand Bahama is the only island that has shown a decrease in the unemployment rate, since the last report from the Department of Statistics. “Based on the last report from the Department, it was revealed that there was a decrease in the unemployment rate here in Grand Bahama,” said Minister of Labour, Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes, who was in Grand Bahama on Thursday to discuss labor matters on the island. He said, generally speaking, the government and the labor department are pleased with what is taking place in Freeport, with respect to employment, adding: “We are pleased that the Industrial side of Grand Bahama is doing extremely well and that accounted for a decrease in the unemployment rate.” The Minister pointed out that Bahama Rock increased its workforce in the past year by 10 percent and that across-the-board all of the industrial sector companies have been employing people. Incrementally, he said, that adds up to big numbers. “Pharma Chem is about to embark on a multi-million dollar expansion of their services and this is expected to create permanent jobs. Additionally GIBC Digital, which launched its opening yesterday has already hired 25 persons and is expected to hire 25 more people. These are high-end paying jobs, and so we are very pleased about that. “There are six other companies that we have already approved to establish an office here in Grand Bahama as a result of the Commercial Enterprise Bill. “As a result of our Labor on the Blocks initiative, Clear Blue, which has a relationship with the GB Shipyard, has already trained 50 persons in hard skills for the shipyard and all 50 of them are now working at the shipyard.”
Minister Foulkes said he did not want to pre-empt announcements by the Prime Minister and by the Minister of State for Grand Bahama but did say that there is excellent news with respect to employment in Grand Bahama in the coming months. “I would say that the government is very optimistic about Grand Bahama and what’s going to happen in Grand Bahama over the next several months,” said Minister Foulkes. Minister Foulkes announced the appointment of John Pinder to the position of Acting Director of Labour. “Mr. Pinder brings a wealth of experience in this area, having served as president of one of the largest unions – the BPSU in New Providence. By training, he is an Auditor. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience on both sides of the fence, the employer side, and the trade union side. “I also want to thank Mr. Robert Farquharson, the former Director of Labour, who did an excellent job in advancing Labour Legislation, establishing the tripartite council nationally, and also strengthening the relationship between employers and employees throughout the country. He is now a senior officer in the Ministry. Minister Foulkes also announced the appointment of Mrs. Janet Russell to the position of Assistant Director in the Department of Labour in Grand Bahama. Ms. Russell replaced Mr. Tyrone Gibson, who has since retired. “Mrs. Russell also has a lot of experience in the public service, having served in several ministries, and we are very happy to have her here in this new position in the Labour Department. Minister Foulkes said that the Ministry of Labour intends to hold another ‘Labour on the Blocks’ in Grand Bahama sometime this year. He said that no dates have been fixed as yet, but added that it could be before the end of summer. However, when it is held it will take place in West Grand Bahama.