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Moniz: Stats on Heritage Wharf workers will not be known until job is complete

Work on the Heritage Wharf modification project is progressing well despite some weather related setbacks, reported Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz.

Mr Moniz also reassured the public that Government would not engage in a cover-up about workforce numbers, and that an exact ratio of nonBermudians to Bermudians can only be ascertained when an audit is done at the project’s completion.

“The numbers will be as new to us as they would to you the public but they will simply be what were needed to complete the project on time.

“I can absolutely assure you that the team on the site, all of whom are working diligently in Bermuda’s best interest, have no fear of what may be revealed.”

The works must be completed in time for the May 15 arrival of the Norwegian

Breakaway, the first of the larger class of cruise ships scheduled to dock in Bermuda.

“Generally progress has been good, we could have gained a little more time had the weather not been cruel to us on Wednesday gusting 30 knots, and heavy rain meant that we could neither pile or weld for the full day and ancillary jobs for bad weather days are all but used up,” Minister Moniz said.

“However the site team recognises the importance of every hour and it was gratifying to find welders working to catch up when site started on Thursday.

“They had mobilised at 4.30am to get a jump on the day and so we were able to start driving early in the morning session.”

He added: “The quality of the welding by both the local employees of Crisson Construction and our colleagues from Norwalk Marine has been excellent, 100 percent of the welds are being tested and only one pile has required remedial work that has cost time.

“These welders have had to combat rain, wind and night work as well as welding a pipe that has been hit a few hundred times with a 17,700lb hammer. Needless to say a lot of the work is in the preparation of the weld.”

The Minister added that Public Works was working to ensure that all project requirements including legislative imperatives were being met.

“Finally I would like to add a note in response to the ratio of local and overseas workers on the site to clarify this situation that is clearly a matter of public interest.

“I hope that the people will understand that there is no intent to cover up anything, it is simply the fact that exact numbers vary not only on a daily basis but on an hourly basis,” Minister Moniz said.

“If we were to take a headcount on one day then it would not be correct at another time. This would leave the Ministry open to further questioning and right now we simply need to work together to complete these essential works.

“When this question first arose at the start of the project the Ministry of Public Works did not compile the numbers presented.

“We simply were not responsible for the pricing or staffing of the works, we required a maximising of Bermudian input and this was considered in the review of the contractor’s submission.”

Questions about the size of the local workforce have persisted for weeks.

Last month, Government said that at least 75 percent of the total workforce are Bermudian.

But there was no response when asked for absolute numbers of Bermudians in full time employment at the site — until last week when it said it could not provide such data.

We also asked the main contractor who said they could not respond due to confidentiality agreements with the Government.

Mr Moniz explained: “Sunrise Construction priced and scheduled the works. They reported that these numbers as they stood were 75 percent Bermudian.

“This was estimated from the hours submitted for the duration of the works at the time at the inception of the project.

“We would expect as we move forward and the piling operations to hand over to the concreting works, the proportion of Bermudians will increase.

“I have not analysed the number of Bermudian against overseas resource hours to date. We are working between ten and 20 hours per day and are fully occupied with the job in hand.

“To present these figures now would in any case not show the true picture which will only be available when the job is done.

“What we can say is that we will always strive to provide employment locally. To do otherwise would make no sense whatever.”

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Published April 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 29, 2013 at 12:52 am)

Moniz: Stats on Heritage Wharf workers will not be known until job is complete

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