Construction companies’ Face anxious moments
With unconfirmed reports emerging today of an unnamed construction company on the verge of bankruptcy, major players in the sector are lamenting the difficulty they face in trying to keep staff employed.
Investigations by Barbados TODAY revealed that while at least one of those large firms plans to layoff about half a dozen employees within the next four to six weeks due to a lack of work, most of the bigger players said they were doing everything necessary either to keep layoffs at a minimum or to hold onto their staff for as long as practicable.
“We plan to layoff six to seven people in another four to six weeks. We are not getting any work in Barbados. The entire construction sector is facing the same challenges and some companies are either about to layoff, or have laid off workers,” said the top executive of one big building firm who did not want to be identified at this time.
Describing the current state of affairs in the industry as a tale of woe, Chief Personnel Officer with the Jada Group Paul Lewis told Barbados TODAY his company was on the hunt for new jobs as existing projects on which it was working wound down.
“It is a bit of a tale of woe right now. I mean we are very slow, mostly in taking up new work. We actually have quite a bit of work on at the moment, but a lot of it is projects winding down, projects coming to an end, including some large projects. So obviously we are looking for new work. And I happen to know there are several other big players in the industry in a similar position. Everybody trying to get new work in,” said Lewis.
He said Jada had some projects in the pipeline, but some of them have been delayed. He said the company was now trying to consolidate by keeping everybody busy in an attempt to keep layoffs at a minimum.
“We don’t have any more layoffs currently than we normally do at any time throughout the year. We managed to hold onto our guys. We do have some [layoffs]. I wouldn’t say we are completely free of layoffs at the moment but not a large amount. Our biggest challenge right now is trying to maintain that status quo; and it is very difficult. It is very difficult to keep everybody. We are a large company, a large group; and it is very difficult and proving very difficult to keep everybody employed.
“Therefore, we are trying to use every means at our disposal without having to lose any workers; and whatever layoffs we do have, we are trying to keep short-term . . . a matter of three, four weeks, that sort of thing,” the Jada executive added.
Lewis said the smaller operators might do well because they may “build a home here or there”, but the larger players which tended to depend on infrastructural projects would all face the same.
Rotherley Construction also confirmed that, like counterparts across the industry, it too was facing challenging times, despite recording a turn around in fortunes recently. However, Human Resource Manager Tamara Allman told Barbados TODAY the company was taking all necessary steps not to send home workers at this time.
“All the construction companies are pretty much going through the same thing. What I can say is that we are taking all necessary measures to ensure that we keep our staff employed,” Allman assured.
Rayside Construction, while not providing any recent numbers, said layoffs were an ongoing exercise at the company and in the industry as a whole.
“That [layoffs] is a feature of the construction industry when you ain’t got no work. When you get work, you bring them back on. We have been laying off people over time based on the projects you are working on. It is not as difficult as it was before; there has been a little pick up, but not back to where you can sustain full employment,” Director of Operations for Human Resources Herbert Harewood stated.
All of these companies made it clear that they were not on the verge of bankruptcy or folding up.
General Manager of C.O. Williams Construction Neil Weekes did not responded to a message seeking comment.