New deal ends protracted dispute
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Morton Bahamas and the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) the company’s line-staff yesterday inked a new five year industrial agreement.
The move brings to an end a contentious and protracted dispute between Inagua’s chief employer and the union.
During that time, there were threats of industrial unrest, accusations of bad faith negotiations and earlier this year the company threatened an employee lock-out.
While neither side would divulge specifics of the agreement, Morton Bahamas executives said yesterday the new agreement included wage increases, production bonuses, shift premium increases, holiday pay increases among other incentives.
Attorney Obie Ferguson who negotiated on behalf of the union, described the deal as “reasonable” and “satisfactory.
“The union is satisfied that we have reached an amicable agreement that is satisfactory to the union and the employer,” said Ferguson at the press conference to mark the signing.
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said: “I am happy and pleased we are able to reach this agreement. This is a good day for workers at Morton Salt and the management at Morton Salt.
“Morton Salt is the largest private employer on Inagua and it was very essential for the government, workers and management that we reach this agreement for the sustainability of the economy of Inagua. During negotiations talks were very frank and at times very tense.”
Foulkes said that the agreement was worked out during two ‘marathon’ negotiation sessions in recent weeks.
Scott Nixon, Morton Bahamas’s general manager, said: “At Morton Bahamas Limited we are committed to fostering a productive relationship with our employees. We are excited to announce that we have reached a five year agreement with our employees at Inagua.
“We are proud of our operation in Inagua. We are looking to continue being a part of the community. We are the number one employer on the island and continue to take great measures to support the local community.”
Jennifer Brown, president of the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) which represents around 100 line-staff said she was elated that the deal had been reached.
She cautioned however that both sides must work together.
“Although we have a contract if we don’t work together it won’t work out,” said Brown.
“I will encourage my members to do the work, eight hours work, an honest day’s work. We hope that management in turn will treat the workers fairly.”