NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) is calling for its recognition as the bargaining agent for the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Institute (BTVI) faculty.
In a statement, UTEB president Daniel Thompson underscored the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of union representation.
He noted BTVI faculty applied to the Minister of Labor for determination on recognition of UTEB as their bargaining agent earlier this year.
“We are still awaiting a response from the Minister,” he said.
“This timeline has been impacted by the Emergency Powers (COVID-19 Pandemic) Order, 2020. We look forward to the conclusion of this matter so that UTEB can provide protection and guidance to its members who are currently working under unacceptable terms and conditions of employment, unstructured administrative policies and disregard for the role and functioning of faculty protection.”
Thompson said the need for union recognition is critical as policies are often changed with little regard for the impact on faculty.
“UTEB, therefore, requests the Minister of Labor to at least acknowledge receipt of the letter for determination of recognition and indicate the way forward. Workers’ Rights have not been quarantined during this COVID 19 pandemic,” said Thompson.
“Almost 24 members of the instructional staff already expressed interest in becoming a part of UTEB. We are very confident that although the authorities may attempt to delay the process we will be victorious. Not only are the instructional faculty concerned about unionization but so are the line staff.”
He continued: “They wish to be unionized as well but we will deal with that at another time. The question is not if we will unionize but simply when. We had begun the process and had we not been in this pandemic period the minister should have answered us from July and we would have begun then begun the process of recognition.
“Notwithstanding the pandemic situation workers are still being subject to unacceptable conditions and it is important that the minister with responsibility for labor move expeditiously on this matter to ensure that workers’ rights are not trampled upon.
“What the pandemic period has shown us is how important it is for workers to have union representation. Workers have become very vulnerable and even marginalized where business owners and managers in general believe they can disenfranchise their workers because of the restrictions and the downturn in the economy during these times.”
Thompson said: “Trade unionism has become even more vital during this period. Trade unions must develop a new approach in this era where they must learn to become collaborative and work with the administration to ensure that there is sustainability. Manages and owners must recognize the value of the human capital to ensure the sustainability of the economy.”
Labor Minister Dion Foulkes has not responded to Eyewitness News inquiries on the issue.