Early poll results are calling Darrin Woods as being elected the unofficial president of The Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union (BHCAWU) early Thursday morning, beating out three other candidates for the top post.
An exhausted but jubilant Woods spoke to Eyewitness News shortly before 1:00 a.m. and said that he is ready to get to work.
“I want to give God thanks for the opportunity to serve His people and to the members of the hotel union for the opportunity to serve them and we’re going to get back to work right away because we have a lot that we have to do,” said the leader of Team Pheonix.
“It looks like my team was elected unanimously.”
Poll workers continued to count feverishly to tally the unofficial numbers in the early hours of Thursday after the polls closed at 6:00 p.m. last night. It is anticipated that the final count will not be available to the public until sometime Friday.
“… but that all depends on how long they take,” he explained.
“We’ve already agreed that there wouldn’t be a recount unless the results were within the margin of 10 and the margins weren’t even close.”
Four teams had put together a slate of 48 candidates – Team Destiny, led by Valdurine Small; Team New Day, led by Abraham Smith; The Revolution Team, led by Tyrone Knowles; and Team Phoenix, represented by Woods.
During yesterday’s vote, many within the membership opined that it was time for change.
The union was led by its first female president, Nicole Martin, for the past nine years. She defended her tenure noting that she was faced with a myriad of legal battles but the membership remained priority.
“I had a mammoth task leading the union from 2009 and it has been an experience,” Martin said.
“Our public image was tarnished, we had a lot of internal fighting that ended in court … one of the things that my team did was stabilize the union because we thought that was important.”
More than anything, Martin told Eyewitness News, that she had hoped to negotiate the “master contract” for hotel union, which however, did not happen.
“We had to do what we had to do, to save the union. We had employees and members who went to great lengths to deregister the union, to have the union considered null and void,” she explained.
While she may have faced many hurdles, Martin said, she is proud that she was able to convince government to pass legislation to protect unions in the country.
“While we did not get a new agreement, we were happy that the industry was settled. We did not have mass redundancies, we didn’t have loss of benefits and we negotiated smaller contracts,” she said.
“I am happy that there is still a hotel union and all of the fights that started with me, ended with me, and a new leader won’t have the majority of those fights to deal with.”