The island’s main seaport of entry is in major financial difficulty, forcing management to review all aspects of its operations, to ensure it remains viable.
General manager of the Barbados Port Inc., David Jean Marie, also told Barbados TODAY this evening that he shut down the port half-day today to have a general staff meeting to apprise workers of the challenging situation being experienced, in light of the current economic downturn. Jean-Marie said the Port was in the process of restructuring its debt, including measures to reduce its substantial pension liabilities.
The Port boss also said he was frank with the employees in telling them of the state of affairs, as well as the overdraft operating position.
“Just like other companies, we are facing challenges. I spoke [to the staff] about our short and medium-term plans to procure the necessarily cargo handling equipment as well as the [proposed] Sugar Point Cruise Facility,” he added.
“We are reviewing the way the organization is functioning and will be taking all steps required to ensure its viability. We are examining all aspects of the Port operations,” pointed out Jean-Marie.
The executive would not be drawn into saying whether or not any of the anticipated steps included laying off workers.
He however told Barbados TODAY the Port was experiencing declines in cargo, noting that when there was a downturn in the economy, such would be reflected in the operations of the facility.
The general manager explained, though, that while his organization was facing major financial challenges, it was still able to pay wages and suppliers, and honour its statutory obligations.
He said the one bright spot was an expected increase in cruise arrivals.
“We are putting measures in place to facilitate that, including the use of Shed 3 as a temporary home porting facility,” asserted Jean-Marie.
“The Port has invested substantially in its workers’ certification. We have extensive training to certify all port workers in port operations, as well as occupational health and safety,” boasted the administrator.
The Port boss also referred to a “small” profit which it made in 2012.