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BTC avoids holiday strike

After initially threatening a black Christmas, unions objecting to the sale of 51 percent of the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)have agreed not to stage any form of industrial unrest while an appeal related to their matter is pending before the Court of Appeal,The Nassau Guardianlearnt yesterday.

It came after a Supreme Court justice dismissed an injunction restricting the unions representing BTC employees from continuing work stoppage.

Justice Bernard Turner handed down his ruling just over two weeks after BTC secured the injunction against the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU), according to attorney Anthony McKinney, who represented the unions during the case.

McKinney said Tara Cooper-Burnside, BTC’s attorney, indicated that the telecommunications company intends to appeal the judgment.

According to McKinney, Cooper-Burnside asked Turner to stay the order in the meantime.

“However, the BCPOU and the BCPMU opposed the stay being imposed and offered the court that they would give an undertaking that no strike action would be taken pending the filing of their appeal and the appeal being taken up by the Court of Appeal,”McKinney toldThe Guardianyesterday.

McKinney said he is unsure when the Court of Appeal will hear the case.

Turner will reportedly reveal the reasons behind his judgment sometime in the new year.

BTC secured the injunction against the unions on December 7 after the BCPOU and BCPMU participated in a protest against the proposed sale.

The action shut down the company’s retail and customer service centers.

During the initial hearings, 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 obviously some type of conspiracy.

Cooper-Burnside added that based on the previous actions of the unions, there is reason to believe that continued industrial action will take place.

Attorneys representing the unions argued that Evans and Carroll did not direct their members to conduct any kind of industrial action. 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.

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

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

The injunction that was granted by the Supreme Court restrained 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].”

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