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No decision yet on mediation between govt, unions on BTC sale

Days after Bahamas Christian Council President Rev. Patrick Paul threw out a suggestion that a mediation exercise be held between the government and the unions, in relation to the sale of a majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)to Cable and Wireless Communications,The Nassau Guardianunderstands that a decision is yet to be made on whether that would take place.

According to aNassau Guardiansource that suggestion may be discussed among the leaders of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)along with the National Congress of Trade Unions.

“But at this point I don’t think either union boss would be open to the idea if the government is not willing to reconsider the sale to CWC,”the source said.

Last week Tuesday, Rev. Paul suggested that both sides meet at the table in an attempt to iron out their differences on the issue.

“The government indeed has a responsibility to do what they believe is best for the country, and of course the unions have their positions as well, and so at this time I think the best thing, is by any means, if there can be a level of mediation between the government and the union,”he said.

When contacted yesterday on the possibility of a mediation exercise taking place, BCPOU president Bernard Evans wished not to comment on the matter.

Earlier this month, the government announced that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU)with CWC to purchase a 51 percent stake at a cost of$120 million plus stamp tax.

The BCPOU, which represents line staff workers at BTC, has claimed that CWC has a bad reputation in the region, especially with regard to the treatment of staff. There are more than 1,000 employees at BTC, the majority of whom are represented by BCPOU and BCPMU.

The Guardianunderstands that Rev. Paul may attempt to meet with the unions to discuss the possible issue of a mediation process.

In the meantime,The Guardiansource said staff morale at BTC is very low and they have advised the unions to continue to forge ahead with its strong-arm tactics against the sale.

Recently Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham cautioned public service workers against participating in any industrial unrest that may be called by the union leaders.

The unions have hinted that a general strike could be on the horizon if the government refuses to change its stance on the issue.

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