NASSAU, BAHAMAS- A trade union leader said yesterday it was ‘sad and deeply troubling’ that many Bahamian worker have effectively been furloughed for more than a week without income in most instances.
Obie Ferguson, the president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) told Eyewitness News that the situation has again underscored the need for some form of emergency fund that Bahamian workers can access in situations such as the one being presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ferguson noted, “Where you have a situation like this, where you have an act of God, the employer is not liable for any reduction of staff because it’s not a redundancy situation. A lot of companies, at least the ones I am involved with have reached out to me to find out what is the legal position with respect to the workers who they have and they have to send home. There is no provision in the industrial agreement for payment to the workers when these types of situation occurs..”
He added, “To the employers, the ones who contacted me, I have suggested that they negotiate some kind of payment even though they may not necessarily be legally required to do it due to the way it happened and the timing etc. The average worker would not have had sufficient time to have any savings in place. We know that that is a major problem in this country. This is something that affects all workers. It’s a very sad situation. It’s a very serious matter and deeply troubling.”
Ferguson said he has made suggestions to successive administrations
To establish an emergency fund in anticipation of these type of situations.
“I have made this point for years. There needs to be something to assist the working class. Right now the government has to find money in a very difficult time. I would hope that the government would finally see the wisdom in the recommendation.”