May 29, 2013
The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) has taken exception to the accusation of sabotage made by Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller, and has pledged to launch an investigation of its own.
On Monday, workers at BEC's Clifton Pier Power Plant found severed power lines in the engine and auxiliary rooms five feet underground after powering down the 31-megawatt engine, which began to overheat, Miller said.
He told reporters he was convinced the damage was the work of BEC employees, before announcing the launch of a full internal and police investigation.
Ervin Smith, vice president of the BEWU, said yesterday the accusation is simply wrong.
"Everything that goes wrong in the corporation or seems to go wrong the problem is made by the union," Smith said.
"While he (Miller) did not say union he referred to the employees, and the line staff that work at Clifton Pier are members of our union, and it is our right to stand and support and defend the rights of our workers.
"Why is it that a proper investigation was not conducted, and as a result of the investigation then you come and make a statement?
"You can not come out and make an allegation against employees and expect smooth sailing. Yes, we want a proper investigation and as a matter of fact we are conducting an investigation ourselves, and we will let the general public know what our findings are."
Miller claimed it will cost the corporation in excess of $250,000 per day in extra fuel to make up for the generation loss of the engine that was tampered with.
He suggested households could expect higher energy costs this summer if it is found that the engine sustained major damage.
Tensions remain high between Miller and the leaders of the union over the implementation of a rostering system in March and overtime.
Miller suspects that this is the latest act by workers who he said are trying to undermine changes underway at the corporation and efforts by the government to cut electricity costs.
Smith said a contract worker could have caused the damage. He was unable to say how many full-time and contract workers were on site on Sunday or Monday.
"There are contract workers who are hired, who are not persons off the street," Smith said.
"These are people who are on BEC's compound every day. It does not take a rocket scientist to see where cables are.
"As a matter of fact they are there now and sometimes when our employees are getting off, contract workers are getting on."
During a site inspection, Miller told reports there are no surveillance cameras at the Clifton Pier power station, however, Smith said he found the news alarming.
"I live in Exuma and at our power station there are cameras at every entry and exit of this compound," he said.
"In the power station, in the office, in the control room, and these cameras were set up under this previous executive board.
"You are going to tell me that they don't have cameras in Clifton Pier?" Miller said security cameras will be installed at each power plant on New Providence within 30 days.
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