Biermans Concrete lays off six people
A major concrete company has shed 40 percent of its staff in the past two months as the construction industry continues to reel in the economic crisis.
Biermans Concrete Products has let go about six people as it struggles to find work, with owner Michael Bierman describing the recession as the toughest hes seen in six decades.
And Mr Bierman fears the industry will get even worse as two developments which have sustained it in recent months are both nearing a conclusion.
He strongly rejected rumours Biermans is shutting one of its sections, telling The Royal Gazette: No, we are not closing anything. We have been operating for 66 years and we intend to operate for another 66 years and more.
However, he continued: I will say this, in 58 years, this is the worst recession I have ever seen.
We have laid off 40 percent of our staff — maybe half a dozen people — over the course of the last couple of months.
It doesnt make me happy, of course, but business goes on.
Many construction workers have recently been employed on the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital and Waterloo House rebuilding projects.
But the hospital is scheduled for completion in 2014, with much of it due to be finished before then, while Waterloo will conclude next summer. Firms have aired concerns there appears little on the horizon to fill the gap.
Mr Bierman said: I think we are facing this down for at least another year or two. Next years going to be worse than this year, unless Government can pull a rabbit out of the hat. Theres not a lot of joy around here.
Construction leaders have recently been calling for Government to take risks to reignite the tourism industry, amid fears smaller companies are in danger of going bust.
Construction Association of Bermuda president Charles Dunstan last month noted other jurisdictions have attracted new business — kick-starting the construction industry — through creative approaches to property ownership and tax incentives.
Reacting to the Biermans news yesterday, Mr Dunstan said: Those not involved in the two major projects, KEMH and Waterloo, are fighting over scraps to stay in business.
Right sizing is the key to survival, and there will be some that will be too slow to react and suffer the ignominy and personal hardship of winding up their businesses.
As I understand it, Biermans are not involved in either of the two major projects for supply of block or concrete, their core business.
Without a major project underpinning your overheads, its difficult to keep your head above water.
Greymane Contracting president Alex DeCouto, who says jobs have never been so hard to come by in his 15 years in the industry, has said Government must encourage investment in tourism infrastructure.
Health Minister Zane DeSilva, the president of Island Construction, has urged workers to prepare for leaner times ahead, and for firms to be good corporate citizens by continuing to employ Bermudians where possible.
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