Employee alleges University refuses to sign NIB documents
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – President of the Bahamas Public Services Union, Kimsley Ferguson, on Thursday expressed a number of concerns on behalf of his members who are employed at the University of The Bahamas – mainly that they are disenfranchised and forced to work in hazardous conditions.
During an impromptu press conference near the University’s Chapter One Bookstore, Ferguson told Eyewitness News Online that the union presented a myriad of issues to the University’s president, Dr. Rodney Smith and other UB executives, but their cries have continued to fall on deaf ears.
Ferguson said the union is now prepared to take action if their concerns are not immediately addressed.
“For starters, we have launched a number of grievances with the University since the latter part of 2017, and we have exhausted every stage [of our industrial agreement],” Ferguson said.
“To date, in the first month of January, we have not received a resolution to any of the matters.”
According to Ferguson, the University has breached a number of clauses in its agreement, a legally binding document.
He claimed that instead of following the guidelines of the union’s industrial agreement, it appears as if UB wants the union to adhere to the terms of the University’s Act.
Ferguson said that UB’s management team needs to “prove itself” locally before seeking international accreditation, as they are not willing to adhere to the terms of the union’s industrial agreement.
“There are quite a number of [union] executives who are part of this management team who are agreeing that the organization is breeching our industrial agreement, but for whatever reason they are afraid to come out publicly and say the same,” Ferguson claimed.
The BPSU president said the union is making an appeal to the prime minister, the minister of education and the UB council to hopefully provide a resolution to address their grievances.
Meanwhile, Julie Saunders, a UB employee who was also at yesterday’s press conference, alleged that a leaky roof in the area where she works at UB, allegedly presented a mold problem that made her ill.
“I have been getting sick. I have a raspatory problem and they have been pushing it aside,” claimed Saunders, who admitted that she is a three-time cancer survivor.
“Human Resources called me into a meeting with the union in November of last year and they promised to get to the bottom of these problems before the new year, but we are going into February.
“I had to spend monies to see different doctors and do tests, [buy] medication…and I have not been paid not even the first national insurance since I’ve been home since October. They refuse to sign the forms for whatever reason, I don’t know,” Saunders alleged.
“My concern is, ok, you got me out fine, but we still have people here that I care about and who other people care about. My four children went to this university, just do what is right by your people, that is all we ask.
“It is the employer’s duty to see that the working environment is healthy in every aspect for their workers. We just ask that they do what is right by us.”
Meanwhile, Ferguson said the union has documented proof to support some of its claims and they plan to call a meeting to discuss its next course of action.
He concluded yesterday’s conference by stating that the University needed to “clean up its act.”