NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest has insisted that the government has met its commitment to public service workers in its payout of nearly $30 million, calling the process fair.
After months of tense negotiations that led to a demonstration in August, the Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) signed an agreement with the government earlier this month that will see its members receive a $1,400 lump sum payment.
“The intent of the lump sum payment was for public servants and permanent and pensionable public servants,” Turnquest told Eyewitness News, on the sidelines of the 2019 Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade.
“We believe that we have met most of those, if not all of the commitment to that class of workers,”
“Contract workers, temporary workers are on a different scale, a different contract all together.
“And of course, we have to operate within the budget that we have and what we can afford to do.
“We believe we have met our commitment to most of the public servants if not all.”
Earlier this week, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin called on the government to provide the rationale for excluding contract workers and other groups of public service officers from the payment.
But Turnquest insisted that the decision was fair.
He said while there are a few public service workers who were not paid out the lump sum in the last payroll, he ensured those exceptions will be taken care of.
“By and large we believe that we have been fair and we have been fair to as many people as we can,” he added.
“This is not an insignificant exercise and again we have to recognize that we have a county to run, we have a budget to manage and so as I say we have covered most of the public service and we believe it’s very fair.”
The BPSU’s previous industrial agreement expired in 2018.
Negotiations are expected to continue in second week of January 2020.
Earlier this year, the BPSU proposed a $250 base salary increase per month in the first year, a $2,500 lump sum payment in the second year and another $200 pay raise per month in the third year for members.
In August, hundreds of BPSU members marched on Bay Street to the Churchill Building, where members demanded money, they said the government ought to pay them immediately.
The BPSU’s members included hundreds of employees at Princess Margaret Hospital, the Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and Rand Memorial Hospital.