NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) will stage a demonstration in front of the University of The Bahamas following another breakdown in their industrial agreement negotiations.
UTEB President Daniel Thompson told Eyewitness News Online yesterday that the union has “resoundingly rejected” the university’s proposal of an 82 cent a day salary increase for its members.
The union’s industrial agreement has been expired since 2017.
“We’ve been back and forth with the administration and the latest response to our plea is they sent us a proposal where it works out to about 82 cents a day for most of our members, or $300 a year,” Thompson explained.
“We took it to the membership last week Thursday and they resoundingly rejected it as unacceptable…and really a slap in a face, really disrespectful. It was disconcerting. They were discombobulated, so to speak, totally confused from the action.
“And so while we were communicating with the university, a response such as this really took the whole faculty aback because we thought we were making progress.”
Thompson noted that the union understands the need for fiscal austerity measures post-Hurricane Dorian. However, he claimed that recent hires on the university’s senior team dictate that funds are available to give his members what they deserve.
Asked whether the matter will lead to union members taking industrial action, Thompson noted that that will be their last resort.
“We are in academia and we always still believe that there is a chance for the university to came to its senses before we take the ultimate step of withdrawing our labor,” he said
“We have our students we have to consider and the members are very conscious of the role we play in national development.
“So before we take those other steps of going to court and taking a strike vote, we feel we need to allow our external public to be aware of what’s happening, to help bring pressure to bear on this senior administration.
“You cannot tell Bahamians who have studied for 11 years to get a PHD in Mathematics or Physics or anything that you are offering them an increase of 82 cents a day.
“It’s comical. It really only expresses the disdain that they have for us.”
The salary increase is just one issue among many the union hopes to protest during its demonstration today.
UB officials could not be reached for comment up to press time.