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Ruling on BTC unions injunction may come next year

The unions representing employees at the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)may not learn until next year whether or not an injunction restricting them from continuing work stoppages will be lifted.

Supreme Court Justice Bernard Turner said yesterday that if he does not make a decision by December 23, it is unlikely that a decision will be made before the New Year.

The unions theBahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)hoped that the injunction would be lifted yesterday. However, after hours of legal arguments from attorneys representing BTC and the unions, the case was adjourned without a ruling.

BTC secured an injunction against the unions last week after the BCPOU and BCPMUparticipated in protests againstthe proposed sale of 51 percent of BTC to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC), shutting down thecompany’s retail and customer service centers. The protests lasted for three days.

BTC attorney Tara Cooper-Burnside argued that union leaders Bernard Evans and William Carroll were both responsible for their members’actions on December 7. She said there was obviouslysome type of conspiracy.

She added that based on the previous actions of the unions, there is reason to believe that continued industrial action will take place. For those reasons she said the injunction should remain and be strengthened.

Attorneys representing the unions argued that Evans and Carroll did not direct their members to conduct any kind of industrial action on December 7. The lead attorney for the BCPOU, Anthony McKinney, said the union leaders advised members to return to work on several occasions. He said in BTC’s affidavit there is nothing demonstrating that there was a call for a demonstration.

McKinney said BTC is asking the court to infer that an order was given.

BCPMU attorney Wayne Munroe further argued that evidence provided to the court by BTC, supporting its claims, is”inadequate.”He said BTC was relying on presumption rather than facts.

“There is a complete lack of empirical data,”he said, adding that the company should have provided the court with a list of the names of the people who did not show up to work on the day in question.

McKinney further argued that employees were locked out of BTC’s headquarters at John F. Kennedy Drive on December 7, preventing them from reporting to work.

However, Cooper-Burnside said that if they had reported to work before the industrial action commenced the doors would not have been locked.

The injunction granted by the Supreme Court restrains the unions from”in any manner interfering with, or impeding, the employees of[BTC]from engaging in their lawful occupations”or”from inducing or procuring employees of[BTC]to break with their respective contracts of employment by taking part in any unlawful industrial action against[BTC].”

Several hundred people, including some BTC union members, gathered in Parliament Square on Wednesday to protest the BTC sale.

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