Union remains resolute
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The three employees who were suspended last week by the Morton Bahamas Salt Company in Inagua have returned to work, president of the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers & Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) Jennifer Brown confirmed Wednesday.
In a letter, company officials indicated that the employees were suspended because they failed to work at optimum levels. Brown, however, rejected this view noting that the three employees had exceeded all of the company’s target goals in recent months.
Meanwhile, Brown said yesterday that a meeting was held on Monday with both management and the Union to discuss the return of the three suspended workers. She noted, however, that nothing was discussed as it relates to the union’s industrial agreement and they are still waiting on a “decent” proposal from the Company.
“The Union has taken the position that we will not return to the table until we receive a decent counterproposal,” Brown said. “We are tired of hearing this is a one-company island. This does not give them the right to treat the workers as they see fit.”
At this point, Brown said the union may have no other choice but to take strike action.
“We were trying to wait things out while the guys were on suspension to see how that played out, but it looks like we will have to [strike] because it looks like they have no intention of doing any different,” Brown told Eyewitness News Online.
Employees at Morton Bahamas Salt Company have threatened on more than one occasion to use a strike certificate that they were issued last November by the Ministry of Labour.
After on-going negotiations last year, the company gave the union a final offer of 1.5 per cent increase in salary. However, this amount did not change for 2019, as outlined in the company’s latest proposal offered to the union in January of this year.
The portion of the proposal which focuses on wage rate scales and classifications outlines a final wage adjustment package of 1.5 per cent for March 2018; 1.5 per cent in March 2019; 1.7 per cent in March 2020 and 1.9 per cent in March 2021.
But according to Brown, these are the same figures that the company presented to the union, with the exception of adding a new ‘leg’ in 2021 of 1.9 per cent.
According to Brown, a 1.5 per cent increase for some persons, only marks a 21-cent increase in their pay cheque.
Yesterday, Brown said the union “wants the world to know that they will not settle for the crumbs from Morton’s table anymore.”
“Inagua is our home and we work to provide for our families and to maintain a steady and healthy lifestyle. Morton Salt [Bahamas] is making it difficult to do that when they refuse to give us what is due to us.
“And with the cost of living rising, how are we to survive? We have been whipped and ridden and left out in the cold without a morsel to eat for far too long. So now we are saying, enough is enough!”
Brown also expressed disappointment in the government for not stepping in.
The union head claimed that the Company is making millions and it appeared as if the government’s “tongue is tied” and they are afraid to stand up for the people’s rights.
“We have a lot of labour issues but cannot get them resolved, because the Minister of Labour refuses to intervene,” Brown claimed.
The union president said Morton’s safety statement says, “Nothing is more important to Morton Salt than Health and Safety; not Production, not Sales, not Profit, not even a Scratch.” She claimed, however, that when drivers complain about salt trucks not running properly, they are allegedly threatened by supervisors who claim that they are not interested in working.
“And in some cases, the employees are clocked out and taken home because supervisors don’t want harvesting to stop or the tonnage to be short. So what seems to be more important then?” Brown asked.
“It’s not employees.”
Attempts to reach a representative from Morton Salt Bahamas last night for comment proved futile.