Union pres. says no prior consultation with the union
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson has expressed dismay that the government decided to offer civil servants affected by Hurricane Dorian a two-month salary advance without prior consultation with the union.
Speaking to Eyewitness News, Ferguson said, “We won’t be taken for granted”.
He noted that he learned of the salary advance offering through media reports, calling it a “blatant disrespect” to the union.
“The union ought not to [be] hearing about things in the media,” Fergusons said “It suggests that the government has no regard for a key stakeholder. From where I sit, it’s disrespect regardless of how you add it up.”
Prior to Hurricane Dorian, government agreed to an $800 lump sum payment to the Bahamas Public Service Union’s (BPSU) estimated 20,000 members. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said this week that that payment was “on hold”, but was still being considered.
Government recently approved the grant of two months’ salary advance to be repaid over a two-year period for permanent and pensionable officers affected by Hurricane Dorian in the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Ferguson said he had received no communication from the government regarding the latter.
“The BPSU is of the view that the deputy prime minister acted irresponsibly,” he said. “We are concerned as stakeholders in this situation. There should have been consultation with the union before information of that nature was divulged to the public. We have constituents that we are responsible to. In an effort to act responsibly in the wake of this hurricane that we would have experienced collectively we sought to give the government the opportunity to carry out the response they need to carry out as it relates to the hurricane and those affected by it.”
He added, “The union took a backseat at that time. As it relates to what is pending, nothing should she even divulged in the media until there was consultation with the union. The union will not sit idly by and allow the government to have blatant disregard for us as we seek to represent our membership.”
Ferguson the union was sensitive to the plight of those affected by Dorian and what the government is up against, but stressed that the BPSU wants to be involved in decisions affecting its membership.
“While we may have some views on the money issue, we want to act responsibly and be sensitive to the fact that there has been a natural disaster [and] we want to allow the government to respond to that,” he said. “We are not talking money, but we are talking about a blatant disrespect and disregard that the deputy prime minister had for the union and the workers of this country.”
He added, “It was hoped that the union and the government could sit together and hash out ways the government could assist persons affected. I believe the government and union should have gotten together and started the way forward for those impacted by the hurricane. I’m hearing about Abaco and Freeport, but there were persons affected by flooding in Nassau. It is apparent that there was a breakdown down in communication in a number of areas. The is a partnership and there must be dialogue and consultation.”
Ferguson acknowledged that while he had a discussion with Minister of Public Service Brensil Rolle who had “suggested some proposals”, he had not received any communication as to what Cabinet had agreed upon.