Munroe backs court ruling

Munroe backs court ruling
Wayne Munroe, QC.

Noted attorney Wayne Munroe, Q.C is backing the ruling made by the Court of Appeal (COA) that dismissed the bargaining agreement between the Bahamas Industrial, Manufacturing and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) and Morton Salt.

The court determined that the industrial agreement was merely an employment contract. Union leaders across the country, however, argued that the ruling renders all agreements null and void.

According to Munroe, the ruling “makes perfect sense”.

“I head the ruling and I don’t understand what the axe is about,” he said.

“You have to sit and agree to the terms that’s how these collective bargaining work…  it becomes a part of the contract.”

Union representatives he advised, have to be careful what they agree to.

Munroe said the agreement makes it clear that in order to alter the shift arrangement, employees have to be notified.

“It does not say you have to agree, it says the company has to notify you,” he said.

“You cannot get upset when people act according to the contract that you agreed to.”

Munroe also suggested that the union bargained a “bad deal”.

“You can’t say it is putting the union back 50 years. What you have to say is we have to be more careful when we sit and negotiate these contracts. We have to read the words carefully,” he charged.

“People only look at that come row day. When things are going fine, no one looking at what is written. It would do unions well to properly negotiate the terms.”

President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Obie Ferguson however, defended the union’s bargaining of the agreement.

He said that all parties are privy to the agreement before it is signed. The Attorney General also gets a review before it is signed off on, according to Ferguson.

“The agreements are not the issue because the documents are registered.  The government ensures that there is no illegality.”

The TUC along with the National Congress of Trade Unions (NCTU), have written to the International Labor Organization (ILO) to intervene on the issue and also plan to take the matter to the Privy Council.

Both groups had threated to shut the country down by withdrawing their service, if government did not address the matter.

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes has since received an opinion from the Attorney General on the case and said he plans to meet with labour leaders tomorrow to chart the way forward.