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Nat’l strike threat

Work could stop at government corporations and companies across the country next week, union leaders threatened last night.

The threat was issued during a rally at the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union Hall on Farrington Road, at the end of the second day of industrial action by hundreds of Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)workers.

The unions representing BTC workers are objecting to the government’s plan to sell 51 percent of the company to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).

President of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)Bernard Evans intimated that all of the public corporations would come together next Wednesday to publicly protest the sale of BTC.

Evans said the BCPOU is scheduled to appear in court next Tuesday in relation to what the government called an illegal work stoppage.

“I think the House(of Assembly)meets on the 15th. The 14th is the eve,”he said.

“You think the nation will be ready for something on the 15th-you think we ready for the 15th?”

Evans did a roll call of all of the unions present at the rally, pointing out the Bahamas Union of Teachers(BUT), the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union(BHCAWU), the Bahamas Public Service Union(BPSU)and the National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas(NCTUB).

He called them all to action and to stand with BCPOU against the government’s impending deal with CWC.

BUT President Belinda Wilson shouted to Evans that he should tell her union when he is ready for the BUT to join any action.

President of the Airport, Airline and Allied Workers Union Nelerene Harding added,”No water, no light, no flight.”It was a clear reference to possible action being taken by the unions of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, the Bahamas Electricity Corporation and Bahamasair.

The unions all had representatives at the rally, which was attended by hundreds of workers.

Newly-elected President of the NCTUB Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson contended a revolution was at hand in The Bahamas.

According to her, years have passed since trade unions have come together for a single cause like they did yesterday.

“The people now have to rise up,”she said.”It’s time to take our country back. We elected the members of Parliament to represent our interests.

“We think it is in the best interest of the government to tear up that MOU(Memorandum of Understanding it signed with CWC).”

It was unclear whether further action would continue today among BTC workers. Evans told them to return to work.

BTC unions have had strong support from affiliate unions since the action started on Monday.

The managers and line staff unions of the National Insurance Board have planned a sick-out today that could potentially cripple operations at all of its locations throughout New Providence,The Nassau Guardianhas learned.

It was unclear up to press time exactly why NIB’s unionized employees were planning industrial action, however, one manager at the company said employees wanted to show solidarity for the workers at BTC.

Isaacs-Dotson said the unions would be calling on the public and the entire country to support them.

“We’re making history out here today and so we’re asking everybody in the country to stand-to stand with the NCTUB, to stand with BCPOU,”she said.”A revolution will happen in the country and I think the time is now.”

The unions are adamant that control of BTC should remain in the hands of Bahamians.

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