Irate UTEB members stage protest

Irate UTEB members stage protest

UB says Agreements negotiated will follow new UB Act


NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Irate University of The Bahamas professors who are members of the Union of Tertiary Educators in The Bahamas (UTEB) gathered at the university’s main entrance yesterday and marched in protest of what Erecia Hepburn, UTEB’s membership secretary, described as unfair treatment and constant failed negotiations.

“The administration brazenly contravenes the laws, policies and practices and even openly declares that the signed and registered Industrial Agreement, 2012-2017 is no longer binding on UB, despite the terms and conditions being legally vested in faculty,” outlined a statement issued yesterday from UTEB members.

The statement revealed that negotiations for a new industrial agreement started on February 19, 2018 but the union was faced with the University’s refusal to negotiate in good faith and found it necessary to suspend negotiations until June 20, 2018.

The statement further outlined that UB’s position goes against all labour practices.

“UB’s position is that more than 50 per cent of our current industrial agreement falls under the purview of the academic senate created under the UB Act (2018) and they were not prepared to negotiate the same,” the statement read.

Areas falling under the act were definitions, faculty development, disciplinary board, categories and nationality of appointment, annual performance assessment, promotions, teaching duties and duties and responsibilities of all faculty.

They also released a five-page report outlining more than 20 issues experienced with members of the board including, but not limited to, discrimination and victimization, academic freedom, and violations.

Hepburn said that during previous meetings the University sent their legal team to conduct agreements but she said they are interested in meeting with the board.

“We want them to come to the table and actually negotiate with us. There are several issues which we need to be addressed. There’s no way we’re just going to let the act which has an academic senate that has more persons than faculty dictate what goes on with faculty,” she said.

However, Hepburn stated that the union is hoping the protest will bring some resolution to the long-standing issues between both parties.

She said that this is not a dictatorship relationship and everyone coming to the table to discuss negotiations must understand that there is democracy.

Hepburn said they are giving the board until the end of the semester to respond to their requests.

Meanwhile, a statement issued yesterday from the University Relations Department of UB, outlined that Bahamian Constitution specifically grants labour unions the right to free assembly and association.  The University said it acknowledges these rights, will continue to respect such rights, and will endeavour to maintain and foster positive, peaceful and productive industrial relations with all Unions represented at the University.

The statement outlined that the passage of the University of The Bahamas Act, 2016, formalized the University’s legal transition from college to university status.

This Act, UB said, represents unique and historical changes for the present and future operation, management and governance of the University.

“The University of The Bahamas Act 2016 is the institution’s new operational framework and it is the University’s new Constitution. The Act designates a system of shared governance between an independent Board of Trustees and a newly constituted Academic Senate.

“Article 7 of the Act confirms the Academic Senate as “…the academic authority” with full responsibility for maintaining the academic standards, regulation and superintendence of the education of students,” the statement read.

The statement continued, “The Board of Trustees has the general direction and control over the conduct of the affairs of the University including, but not limited to, matters involving the rights and responsibilities of the University’s Faculty members.

“Both the Academic Senate and Board of Trustees are assigned specific powers, functions, duties and responsibilities under the Act.”

UB said all Industrial Agreements to be negotiated by the University will have to be guided by and aligned with the new University of The Bahamas Act.

“All necessary procedural and substantive provisions as stipulated in the Industrial Relations Act regarding collective bargaining agreements will be adopted as relevant to the higher education context.  We remain committed to providing the highest level of service to all our constituents, we are one UB,” the statement concluded.