Water and Sewerage Corporation overtime dispute continues

Water and Sewerage Corporation overtime dispute continues
Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) President Dwayne Woods (file photo)

Union’s pres. rejects fraudulent overtime claim

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) President Dwayne Woods said yesterday the union will do what it must until the issues presented to the Water and Sewerage Corporation are resolved.

“I presume that it goes on until the matters are resolved,” Woods said.

Speaking to Eyewitness News Online, Woods said it does not appear the corporation and its executive management team is receptive to resolving the issues, and the union has called on Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to intervene.

According to Woods, the union plans to meeting with Department of Labour officials on Monday.

A trade dispute has not yet been filed.

Central to the union’s concerns is overtime pay for work in Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, policy related to sick leave, the discontinuation of responsibility allowance payments, which the union claimed was 13 months overdue; and the corporation’s failure to submit an industrial agreement counter proposal, among a myriad of other issues.

However, WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson has claimed that a handful of employees assigned to work in Abaco as part of the restoration effort “fraudulently” amassed hundreds of hours of overtime.

He said the corporation will not be paying “egregious” overtime.

During a press conference Thursday, Gibson advised that disciplinary action was taken against one employee who was signing off on the overtime.

Yesterday, Woods rejected Gibson’s claims, indicating that employees in Abaco worked in excess of 15-hour days, including on weekends, entitling them to time and a half and double time.

“I could only say that the corporation is being disingenuous because from September 2, the storm visit The Bahamas, to now if there was a question on the overtime I would think that industrial goodwill would prevail and the corporation would have confronted the union on such a matter.

“It is so erroneous or so hypothetical that only when the union start to kick up for payment that the corporation would come out and say that it was an egregious matter taking place or some investigation took place or some wrongdoing took place. Man, come one. Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles could see through that. If there was a problem before now, why wasn’t the union made aware?”

Woods also said overtime has to be authorized and signed off on by a manager, and with respect to work in Abaco, that was the case.

“It is either that Mr. Gibson is not aware of the operations of Water and Sewerage or he has a problem articulating mathematics,” the union president said.

“He is complaining of individuals making 300 hours of overtime in a month, which can easily be done. Now, coupled with the fact that there is devastation, you can do 300 hours of overtime very easy in a month.”

Dozens of line staff at the corporation withdrew “enthusiasm” on Wednesday.

According to Gibson, only a handful of employees engaged in what he said was an illegal sickout.