Ferguson: Water & Sewerage Unions must be issued a strike certificate

Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson (far left) speaks to the press.

Says Labour Director has no right to refuse issuance

NASSAU, BAHAMAS  – President of the Trade Union Congress, Obie Ferguson, on Friday claimed that Labour Director John Pinder has no right to refuse the issuance of a strike certificate for the unions representing managers and line staff at the Water and Sewerage Corporation.

“John [Pinder] can’t say no, he must give it. It’s not his call, it’s the minister’s [call],” Ferguson told Eyewitness News Online.

“He is just there to say, ‘this is the vote,’ but he isn’t telling the public that. He is [only] telling the public about some two thirds of what the Constitution says.”

A statement released by the Board of the Water and Sewerage Corporation claimed that 60 per cent of a union must vote in a strike vote in order for a strike certificate to be granted.

According to the Water and Sewerage Unions strike vote results, despite the majority voting in favor of a strike, only 32 per cent of the managerial union voted and only 34 per cent of the line staff union voted.

BUT President of the Bahamas Utility Services and Allied Workers Union, Dwayne Woods, said that those results were grossly miscalculated.

“It is quite obvious that the representational count that the Board of Directors signed their names to are untruths or miscalculations,” Woods said.

“Out of 312 members, 107 did not cast a ballot for one reason or another, ranging from being on vacation or sick leave.”

While also disagreeing with the labour director’s apparent ruling, President of the Managerial Union, Ednel Rolle, said that the action taken by the board is a simple plan by the board to prohibit the unions from striking.

“The union accepts that this approach by the government is to delay the process of negotiations,” he said. “If the Director refuses to provide them [strike certificate], the only recourse will be to take the matter to court.”

According to both Union Presidents, the actions demonstrated by the board, in particular the executive chairman, Adrian Gibson, suggests that they are not ready to properly negotiate.

Rolle said the next step for both unions is a strike.