NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Three unions have called on the government to pay monies owed to their members or risk widespread industrial action.
Members of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU), Bahamas Utility Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) and Water and Sewerage Management Union (WSMU) gathered at the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (BCB) yesterday to make their voices heard.
BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods said the action is just a prelude to stage two of its action against the government.
“We are calling on the powers that be to step up to the plate and solve these matters in a conciliatory manner before we have to up the ante,” Woods said.
“We’d like to apologize to the general public for any inconvenience caused as we try to get these matters resolved.
“We are looking forward to a resolution and not war.”
Woods called on the prime minister to “step up to the plate and resolve these humanistic matters of concern”.
BUSAWU members went on work to rule this week over multiple long-standing issues, including overtime pay associated with Hurricane Dorian, negotiations over each unions’ industrial agreement and the delay in payment of a 2020 Christmas bonus.
The group was expected to meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister on Thursday, but that did not happen.
Speaking to reporters on Long Island yesterday, Bannister said he refused to meet with the union after they had taken industrial action.
“Don’t come to me and say you want to meet with me and then you call industrial action,” he told reporters. “That makes no sense.”
He continued: “I hope the leadership of those unions will get their members together and say ‘let’s take a collection together, let’s go in some communities in our country, let’s make a difference in some lives and some children and some people who may not be able to eat during this Christmas’.
“And ‘let’s talk about a Christmas bonus afterwards when there’s some money in the country’.
“So, no I’m not going to meet with anybody who calls industrial action before I meet with them.”
Meanwhile, BCB employees staged a demonstration over the corporation’s failure to pay a contractual salary lump sum of $900 owed since April, along with a salary lump sum and sick increment due this month.
BCB Chairman Fred Gottlieb said the corporation is doing everything it can during the “difficult financial times” to keep the corporation “financially sustainable and thereby ensure the staff continue to be employed”.
However, BCPOU President Dino Rolle said there was no indication from the corporation that they were going to be late on payments or not pay at all.
“You just can’t unilaterally decide, ‘Well, I’m going to pay this or I’m not going to pay that,'” he said.
“…You must come and speak to the employee representatives, that’s us.”
Rolle insisted that the union expects the corporation’s management to live up to their obligations.