NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Carmen Kemp, the former president of The Bahamas Utility Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) on Tuesday advised current president Dwayne Woods to simply return to work.
Woods confirmed that he has been on administrative leave for the past seven years.
Earlier this week, he told Eyewitness News that he was sick for a ‘period of time’ and he is presently on vacation.
He also explained that under the union’s industrial agreement, there is a three-year benefit that speaks to union leave which is allocated to an employee elected to a permanent union office.
And according to Woods, for the past seven years, he has been enjoying this benefit.
“My predecessor [Carmen Kemp] enjoyed the same benefits for six years before me, which puts the leave to about 13 years for both presidents,” Woods told Eyewitness News.
However, Kemp sought to set the record straight on Tuesday and stressed that she and Woods “are two different persons” as she operates quite differently.
“While I was there [at Water & Sewerage], I sought to resolve issues as oppose to adding fuel to the fire as he does,” Kemp alleged.
“I don’t know why he was allowed to be on leave that long and there are several things that I do not understand that Mr. Woods was allowed to do, but nevertheless, he is being asked to return to work and he should return to work.
“To my knowledge, he had to request that [administrative] leave off and he had to get a response from the board of the corporation for that leave to be granted.
“In this instance, he was rejected, therefore he should return to work.
“He should not use me because I have built up an entirely different relationship with the corporation…,” Kemp said.
Kemp’s comments echoed those of Water and Sewerage chairman Adrian Gibson, who told media on Sunday that Woods has been on administrative leave for years, but was still collecting a salary of $60,000 in addition to other perks as union president.
It was a claim that Woods has vehemently denied.
Woods confirmed to Eyewitness News Earlier this week that he is actually paid $53,000 per annum by the Corporation after 35 years of service. He added that his union stipend is $1,500 a month and not 2,000 as stated by Gibson, which works out to $18,000 a year.
As it now stands, the union has filed an action in the Supreme Court as it relates to Woods’ administrative leave and the union has also taken their concerns to the Labour Board.
Woods said he also has plans to contact a lawyer to determine how best to seek legal action after Gibson revealed his salary.
Gibson, on the other hand, said the Corporation has instructed its attorneys to strike out the Union’s Writ of Summons as the matters stated therein are personal to Mr. Woods and given the same, the Union has no locus standi.
According to Gibson, there is no other union leader in the utility sector in the Bahamas, or anywhere else, who has such an administrative as Woods, which is not a facet of the Industrial Agreement.
Gibson said the existing Board, upon review of the realities on the ground, determined not to renew the administrative leave with pay.
He said Woods was informed of the decision and was told to report for duty.
Meanwhile, Carmen Kemp maintained on Tuesday that Woods “does not add any value” to the Corporation and, in retrospect, he needs to look within [himself] and ask if he should really remain in the union’s trailer as president while on administrative leave.
“An administrative leave is not covered by the industrial agreement,” Kemp stressed.
“I’ve always encouraged my members to walk the straight and the narrow. We respected our industrial agreement and Mr. Woods needs to just return back to work because even when I left the trailer, I paid a $500 rent for that trailer.
“Mr. Woods was my vice president and he was well aware that we paid rent and the financials are in that office to see where rent was being paid on a monthly basis.
“I left office not owning a dime. All of the bills were cleared up in that office and what he is doing now is really bringing the union down and he needs to return to work.
“He does not have the support of the members and my advice is go back to work.”