Saxons win over unions’ woes

PM says he’s more worried about outcome of Junkanoo than mass strike

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis indicated yesterday that he has no concerns about the umbrella unions and their affiliates orchestrating a mass strike and said he is more worried about the Shell Saxons Superstars winning the Boxing Day Junkanoo parade.

Dr. Minnis met with the leaders of around 30 unions on Monday in a bid to resolve their labour concerns.

However, many of them described the intervention as fruitless and said it was not enough to avert industrial action plans.

Asked at Baha Mar yesterday morning whether he was concerned about the threat of a mass strike, Dr. Minnis said, “No. No, no, no.

“I am more worried about other matters.

“I am more worried right now and concerned [about] whether the Saxons are going to win Junkanoo Christmas. That’s what I’m gearing up for.”

In a statement yesterday afternoon, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold asserted that the prime minister’s statement was made in jest and was not intended to make light of or diminish the seriousness of labour concerns in the nation.

Senior physicians ceased all elective public healthcare service last Tuesday, citing failed negotiations with the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) over raises.

The Bahamas Nurses Union overwhelmingly voted to strike last night, according to unofficial results provided by the union.

The move was prompted by a new eight-hour shift system imposed by the PHA in October.

Responding to questions relating to Monday’s meeting with physicians, Dr. Minnis said those discussions were ongoing and he was unable to disclose specifics.

“I hope we come to a resolution, but discussions are still in progress,” he said.

“They are meeting this morning with the financial secretary and the financial individuals, so we can look at whether we have any type of wiggle room.

“We have just introduced our fiscal policy programme and therefore, under no circumstances, can we to any degree jeopardize our international financial standings.

“You know we are being reviewed by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) etc. [and] so, all those matters have to be taken into consideration.

“One cannot just look in isolation; one has to look at the global picture.”

The requirements handed down from the international body has represented a tightening of The Bahamas’ financial services sector, forcing the government to consider alternative revenue generating measures and legislative reforms.

These include the introduction of fiscal responsibility legislation, an accrued accounting system, public debt management and public finance management legislation, among others that impact the financial services industry.

While the CPSA was set to meeting with Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson and personnel from the Ministry of Finance yesterday morning, that meeting was rescheduled to today, CPSA President Dr. Locksley Munroe told Eyewitness News.

Of his joint meeting with the two umbrella unions and their affiliates, Minnis said it was informative, though he was again careful not to divulge specifics.

“I obtained a lot of information,” he said.

“[The] information that I had gathered from them I will inform by labour minister to meet with the relevant unions so as to deal with the matters.

“Some of the problems go way back 15 years you know. I wasn’t even here, and then I’m saddled with 15 years or problems, but so be it, you know.

“[You] wear the cap… My labour minister, I’ll ask him to deal with it.”

The prime minister also said he has asked his Cabinet colleagues to speak to the boards under their purview in a bid to facilitate better communication between those chairs and the respective union leaders.

He said, “Communication is the most important thing.”

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