TUC “very disappointed” about exclusion from COVID-19 taskforce

TUC “very disappointed” about exclusion from COVID-19 taskforce
Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson said he is “very disappointed” the umbrella union has not been included in the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans.

However, Ferguson said the TUC, which represents thousands of workers across the country, stands ready and prepared to lend its assistance.

He was referring to the government’s National Coordination Committee on COVID-19, which features a cross section of civil society stakeholders and government representatives.

National Congress of Trade Unions President Bernard Evans is listed as a member.

In an interview with Eyewitness News, Ferguson said: “We are very disappointed. We are very disappointed that the unions have not been brought in the picture to play a role because the Trade Union Congress; we represent the doctors; we represent the nurses.

“These are people who are directly involved and I would have thought that ought to be done.

“It’s the proper thing to do in my humble opinion.

“They are an affiliate of the congress and by virtue of the government approaching the congress on the matter, obviously it would involve Water and Sewerage, Air Traffic Controllers; [BPL] workers.

“These are the people who are directly on the frontlines.

The TUC represents more than two dozen unions and has a collective members of more than 15,000 workers.

Ferguson said it is in the interest of the country and its residents for all stakeholders to work together.

“I think one of the major problems we have in this country is we don’t seem to work very well together as a people,” he said.

“We tend to give the impression that I can do it all by myself.

“You have to remember and realize that workers are very important to any country and when you have trade unions, it is important that government work with trade unions.

“No one is suggesting you must capitulate to the unions, but we are saying where there are issues of national importance, the trade unions, the individual trade unions must be a part of the process.”

Last week, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pearl McMillan and Organization for Responsible Governance Executive Director Matt Aubry were named co-chairs of the National Coordination Committee on COVID-19.

Other committee members include: Central Bank of The Bahamas Governor John Rolle, Bahamas Christian Council President Bishop Delton Fernander, Bahamas Maritime Authority Chair Denise Lewis-Johnson, Downtown Nassau Partnership Director Ed Field, Bahamas Chamber of Commerce Chair Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association President Carlton Russell, and Doctors Hospital Health System President Dr Charles Diggiss.

The government established the committee to help combat the “grave threat” COVID-19 represents to The Bahamas.

The first case of the virus was confirmed in The Bahamas Sunday.

In an address on Sunday night, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said COVID-19 is “threatening our country, our families and our very lives”.

He called it a national fight and crisis that “we all have a role to play in”.

“As we put our faith in Almighty God, we must also have faith in each other as together we unite to fight this major threat to our health and our way of life.”