Gibson: WSC will not pay “fraudulent” overtime

Gibson: WSC will not pay “fraudulent” overtime
Chairman of the Water & Sewerage Corporation, Adrian Gibson.

One employee has been disciplined over “egregious” overtime

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson yesterday said disciplinary action has been taken against at least one employee who was signing off on “egregious” overtime.

During a press conference at WSC’s headquarters of Thompson Boulevard, Gibson doubled down on claims that a handful of employees assigned to work in Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian “fraudulently” amassed hundreds of hours of overtime.

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

Gibson said the workers in question made claims of 200 and 300 hours of overtime for the month of October, which amounted to between $9,005 and $14,232 per employee.

According to the executive chairman, these claims were suspected to be “fraudulent and exploitation”, noting the average salary for these employees ranged from $2,200 and $3,500 per month.

Gibson said the discovery led to a freeze of overtime payments pending further investigation.

He said he has directed a total revamp of the overtime policy to foster greater accountability and to prevent any misuse, misappropriation and/or abuse.

“WSC will not issue any of these egregious amounts and given the aforesaid, expects to take the necessary and appropriate action in short course,” he said.

“Given the same, we are disappointed that Mr. Woods has come out with a press conference seeking to pursue payment of these egregious amounts.

Dozens of WSC staff began work to rule on Wednesday.

Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) President Dwayne Woods has threatened a “total shutdown” if grievances are not addressed.

According to the union, there has been a discontinuation of responsibility allowance payments, which the union claimed was 13 months overdue; failure to pay overtime to members for Abaco restoration; a failure to pay regular overtime in New Providence and the Family Islands; and the corporation’s failure to submit an industrial agreement counter proposal, among a myriad of other issues.

Yesterday, Gibson said a three-person team met with the union president at 10 a.m. yesterday.

He said; however, the corporation was disappointed about what he called an illegal sickout.

He said fortunately only a handful of line staff participated in the action yesterday and Wednesday.

The corporation has noted responsibility allowance is not an automatic entitlement, but granted under the industrial agreement in particular circumstances.

Gibson said the corporation has also discovered that the responsibility allowance benefit has been abused and used as a “salary rider”.

“In several instances we discovered that this allowance was being abused to supplement the salaries of persons while those persons essentially carry out their usual roles,” Gibson said.

“It was also being used to boost the salaries of persons who may not have been promoted.

“Moreover, we discovered that several persons were receiving responsibility allowance for years in breach of both policies and the industrial agreement even when those positions were filled and/or is was simply not warranted.

“A sizable percentage of the corporation’s staff was being paid this allowance as a salary rider. Upon discovery of the same, the corporation’s board and executive management brought an end to that approach with respect to this allowance, instead opting to ensure strict adherence as to when it is issued.”

As it relates to promotions, Gibson said promotion exercises are based on merit and done at the discretion of the corporation. He said promotions are not within the union’s purview, which the chairman said should not attempt to dictate to the corporation on whom should be promoted.