Former minister: Treatment of Abaco airport workers “shameful”

Former minister: Treatment of Abaco airport workers “shameful”
Englerston MP Glenys-Hanna Martin speaks in the House of Assembly yesterday. (Photo by Torrell Glinton)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS- Former Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin yesterday called on the government to immediately address the concerns over conditions at the Marsh Harbour airport.

Six security screeners walked off the job on Friday in protest against working conditions at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport – that was significantly impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

In a handwritten letter delivered to the Airport Authority, the employees asserted that they have “had enough” and will not return to work “until there are better conditions, compensation and pay raise”.

In a statement on the matter, Hanna-Martin said the walk-out potentially jeopardized security at that facility.

“We are forced to call upon Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar to step up and ensure the necessary support is being provided to all airport workers impacted by this deadly hurricane,” Hanna-Martin said.

“It is very unfortunate that there has been no support of these victims of Hurricane Dorian until now, yet they have been required to protect our national interests.

“The lack of empathy and sensitivity displayed by leadership is shameful.

“Further, in light of the recent walk out, the minister must guarantee the integrity of airport security at this port of entry.”

Hanna-Martin noted all of the workers suffered significant loss, including relatives and material possessions as a result of the storm.

“The airport workers say there has been absolutely no support forthcoming from either the Airport Authority or the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation even though they were mandated to return to work within days of the natural disaster and despite their own personal devastating
circumstances,” she claimed.

“We are advised that in the face of their homelessness and traumatized condition, the authorities appear oblivious to or even worse, unconcerned with, their suffering and their general plight. As a
consequence, airport security officers left their posts.”

But Director of Aviation Algernon Cargill told Eyewitness News Online yesterday that attempts were made by the Airport Authority to assist employees in the aftermath of the storm.

Cargill said following the storm, the Airport Authority provided the opportunity for every employee to relocate to Nassau or any other Family Island that was not impacted.

He said all but 13 employees took this opportunity.

The aviation director further noted that in order to keep the airport compliant with security requirements, employees were sent from Nassau to ensure services are provided.

“We will do our best to ensure that we are taking care of all our employees,” he said. “We thank them for all their contributions and I am confident that management will be able to ensure that working conditions improve.”