Ugh! Government Agencies Striking again!?! These a set of ungrateful #@!*! hey? They Should be happy they have a Job!
This is probably the reaction a lot of Bahamians have to the news that another government agency is striking. In fact, I’ve seen some post on FB to that effect.
And the fact that the strike seemed targeted for a busy tourist period and during election season doesn’t help.
It’s easy to get the impression that the unions are just out for a money grab at best or being used for political gain at worst.
But take the politics out and the story of Bahamian workers being mistreated is nothing strange in this country.
Whether it’s the staff of Cable Bahamas, Sandals Resort, The GB Power Company or countless faceless Bahamians too afraid of losing their job to protest, it seems Bahamian workers are often at the mercy of their employers.
When that employer is the Government that can be even more daunting.
So while I am of the opinion that we need to take a real hard look at the service and value we get from Government agencies, I thought I should at least try to find out why they are protesting before writing them off as greedy or political puppets.
I came across a post on facebook by a union member entitled “More Facts about Immigration’s and Customs Workers Strike” that I thought I would share with you;
1. The Government is Breaking It’s Own Law
Employment AcT Article 4 Shows that Employer cannot impose and lesser benefit on an employee in comparison to which they previously enjoyed.
Government as stripped 60% of the income of these workers, without proper consultation or approval.
In terms of this, the Prime Minister stated that the union would have to take him to court and he wil fight it all the way up to the Privy Council. If the union looses they must expect to cover the cost.
Employment Act Article 10 – Extra attendance should be paid at twice the regular rate for employees on holidays. and one and a half at other times. regular rate = Hourly wage.
If an employees hourly wage is $12 and hour, he should be paid $24 an hour on Public Holidays.
The Prime Minister admitted they were wrong in this regard (Paying the Flat Rates) and would seek to back pay monies owed for 2 years in a meeting at his office February of this year. Now Dion Foulkes is saying if the amount is too much they wanna pay whatever they want to pay.
In reference to General Orders, and the various regulations and Acts referring to how workers should be paid;
The PM stated that if the law does not say what he want it to say, let him know so that he will change it to say what he want it to say.
2. Insufficient Rest Between Shifts
Employees are unable to obtain rest between shifts, eg. Knock off at 12mn, and sometimes must return to work at 8 am. Situation is worsened when their are delayed flights and officer knock of sometimes around 1am, 2am and must return back for duty at 8am.
3. Health and Safety Concerns
There are health and safety hazard too numerous to mention, such as dust at Arawak CAy causing lung infections for workers.
Immigration and Customs officers either must ride a shuttle bus at LPIA with the same persons they interrogate and tax, or walk nearly a mile in the sun to their vehicles or at night when the bus is not running posing a further risk. this is done while the preferred parking lot near the terminal remains empty, NAD indicates it is for short term or cell phone customers. It is more than enough space for use by officers and short term parking.
4. Removal of Rostered Overtime
Prior to the removal of full Overtime which supplemented the very small salaries, the government issued letters via HR Departments which allowed banks to consider the thousands made in overtime to supplement salaries. With this letter workers obtained Loans, Mortages etc. Now overtime was completely removed without adequate compensation, mortages and bills still remain, some workers have even already lost homes.
Now officers do not even want the Overtime, thats overwork. They want a sensible salary and everything they are legally entitled to.
5. Refusal to Negotiate a New Agreement
Workers are Operating with out a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, A proposal was given to the Government in February with numerous dates the Union would be available to begin negotiations, however, The government refuses to even begin talks within this proposal which addresses all issues concerned.
6. Union Did Not Choose Election Time To Act
The Government fought against the formation and of the achievement of the Customs and Immigration union for two years. Fought against a constitutional right of workers. The Union won every case in court. Now that it is election time, is their fault.
The Strike is Legal, nobody can be cut, or fired
Dion Foulkes Minister of Labour Authorized this STRIKE against his own administration, and I assume after consultation with the PM. So he goes in the news and say he have no knowledge of union action pending, thats a lie. Union has a signed strike certificate signed by DION Foulke
7. Intimidation Tactics
Clear violation of the Industrial Relations Act one clear example was the Prime Ministers Comments in the media that officers will be fired if they dont return to work.
Now the Governments is sending in its Police to Acost its own Officers of these other law enforcement Branches and drag young and female officers through the dirt for exercising their legal right to protest at their place of employment given via the strike certificate.
you can find original post here
I found this interesting reading and definitely shed a little more light on the situation for me.
Share Your Thoughts;
How Do You Feel About The Points Raised Above and about workers rights in The Bahamas in General?