TUC to join NCTU in march on Parliament
The Trade Union Congress(TUC)plans to march today with disgruntled Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)workers and unions affiliated with the National Congress of Trade Unions(NCTU).
The BTC unions and the NCTU are seeking to block the sale of a 51%stake in BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
TUC Vice-president Cleola Hamilton said yesterday the move is the first step to drive home to the government that Bahamian workers must come first.
“The TUC would like to make it unequivocally clear that we are in support of the workers of the NCTU and the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)in their struggle which they are encountering right now with this present administration,”said Hamilton at a press conference at the House of Labour on Wulff Road.
“We feel that the lack of respect for labor in this country by this present administration is one that is undesirable and it is a disgrace.”The TUC will be present with the NCTU to support the working people of this country.”
The TUC and NCTU have over the years made their divisions clear, marching for the past several years in separate Labour Day parades.
The unions plan to assemble at the Government Grounds, Blue Hill Road, at 8.30 a.m. and will march on Parliament as the House of Assembly is scheduled to meet.
Hamilton’s announcement yesterday came hours after NCTU President Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson launched a national initiative dubbed”Bahamas for Bahamians Campaign.”
The initiative encompasses the business sector, religious community, civil society and everyday Bahamians who will seek to send a clear message to the government that Bahamians must come first in their country.
Isaacs-Dotson said the unions are seeking to persuade the government to reverse its decision to sell 51 percent of BTC to CWC, and privatize the company by other means including an Initial Public Offering(IPO)where Bahamians would be given the opportunity to purchase shares.
At the TUC press conference, Hamilton made no definitive statement on whether the TUC supported privatization or whether it opposed the majority shares being sold to CWC.
“What we are opposed to is the way workers are treated in this country,”she said.”There are things that are happening between this administration and the trade unions that we feel need to be addressed in a more amicable way rather than how it is being done.”
She said the TUC will discuss the BTC privatization with the NCTU in more specific terms and make a statement.
“We will stand together in the best interest of workers in this country. We cannot sit around and see our brothers and sisters being bombarded and suffering the way they are. We have to pull together,”Hamilton said.
The TUC represents 26 unions with several thousand members, including doctors, nurses, air traffic controllers, managers at the Water and Sewerage Corporation and the National Insurance Board and immigration and customs officers.
The NCTU has said it believes the CWC deal is a bad fit for the country because”the government is receiving less from the sale than it spent on the sale.”
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday that no unions have applied to him or the Department of Labour to conduct a work stoppage today. He said if government business comes to a standstill as a result of the march, it would be illegal.
“All of the unions in the country must be mindful of the economic situation that we are in,”he said.
“These are tough times for many Bahamians and any wildcat action can cause a serious dislocation in our economy which can add to the further deterioration of the economy and subsequently hurt the workers of The Bahamas.”