NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Utilities Service and Allied Workers Union and the Water and Sewerage Management Union (WSMU) have initiated action against the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) over multiple longstanding issues.
In a press release to members, BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods and WSMU President Ednel Rolle indicated that the unions have “now arrived at a place where the corporation has refused to acknowledge and fail to consult legitimate officers of each union in regards to union-related matters”.
The notice indicated that “enough is enough”.
As a part of their initial action, the unions are advising members to exit all WSC WhatsApp groups effective immediately, turn in all cell phones belonging to the corporation and block two particular numbers from their personal cell phones.
The unions’ outstanding matters include overtime pay associated with Hurricane Dorian, negotiations over each unions’ industrial agreement and the delay in payment of a 2020 Christmas bonus.
In an interview with Eyewitness News, Woods said: “The union would like to move away from the stigma that unions are ‘grabbalicious’.
“We wanted the public to know and rest assured that we are aware that this is a sensitive time based on the economic, financial conditions of the country.”
Woods said the union’s main problem is that there was no notice was given regarding the deferral or postponement of workers’ Christmas bonuses.
He said if the unions were notified two to three months ago, their members could have planned for the deferral.
“Due to that late notice, we are unable to swallow that bitter pill and we are asking the government to meet us at the table, let’s sit down and negotiate in good faith, in the interest of both stakeholders,” he said.
The unions are expected to meet with newly appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister tomorrow.
Woods added that they are going into the meeting in “good faith”, knowing that Bannister is a “fair person” and will be able to spearhead the course.
“We tried to do the same with the executives of the corporation and to no avail — they refuse to sit down in good faith with the union.”
The unions have been locked in a heated exchange between WSC Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson and General Manager Elwood Donaldson for several months.