NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The government has agreed to pay all outstanding money owed to Airport Authority employees over a six-month period beginning next month, the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (MOTA) announced yesterday.
In a statement on the outstanding industrial agreement payments, the ministry said it is aware of concerns being raised by Airport Authority employees through their union, the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU).
“The government of The Bahamas has agreed to pay all outstanding monies owed to the Airport Authority employees over a six-month period commencing the March 2021 pay period,” the MOTA said.
“The ministry has remained fully committed to honoring all agreed terms of the industrial agreement, and this has been communicated. The current financial constraints we face as a result of COVID-19 and its impact on our economy did not make it possible to honor these payments, and we ask for the continued patience of the Airport Authority and its employees as we rebuild our economy stronger and continue to demonstrate our promise to protect jobs.”
It further noted that the Airport Authority generates its revenue from the air-traveling public by way of collecting security and related travel fees at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) and the country’s 28 Family Island airports.
“Despite a steep decline in revenue to only a fraction of what is required to honor our commitments, we have retained all of our 600-plus employees on full pay, notwithstanding the fact that the majority are working a significantly reduced workweek,” the MOTA added.
“Specifically, all employees, with the exception of the Airport Screening and Security Departments, have been working approximately 20 hours weekly, with full pay; and during the peak of the pandemic, most were not required to work at all as the airports were closed or operating on extremely limited schedules.”
The ministry emphasized that the government has strongly resisted furloughing employees or terminating anyone because of the pandemic, noting that the engagement of all Airport Authority employees is part of the solution on the road to recovery and maintaining economic stability.
“Our commitment to our employees has been particularly evident in the aviation sector that has been hit very hard by the multiplying negative effects of the pandemic, as evidenced by the passenger traffic activity at LPIA and all of our 28 Family Island airports,” its statement added.
“Our commitment to our employees is further demonstrated by our proven focus on protecting jobs for the long-run, and the Ministry of Tourism and the entire government of The Bahamas view our workforce as one of our most important priorities.
“We therefore ask for the patience of the Airport Authority team and the Bahamas Public Services Union as they exercise their rights in protesting and or making any other public statements.”
In recent weeks, a number of unions including the Bahamas Nurses Union and the Bahamas Taxi Cab Union have protested respective long-standing concerns with the government.
The Airport Authority’s managing director in November said the entity did not have the financial wherewithal to address the financial demands of its employees, including back pay and pay increases.