Union: PM arrogant
Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU)secretary general Denise Wilson accused Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham of arrogance yesterday further escalating the war of words between the union and government over the sale of the majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
“The prime minister is belligerent and arrogant enough for this to be a done deal, but ultimately Bahamians own BTC and Bahamians own the government,”said Wilson at a news conference at BCPOU headquarters on Farrington Road.
“Bahamians determine who sits in the seat of power and we are approaching a very critical time and I will admonish politicians to be mindful of the time that we live in because as far as we know, Bluewater was a done deal too and they done finish.”
The last Progressive Liberal Party(PLP)administration had almost concluded a deal to sell 49 percent of BTC to Bluewater Ventures Limited before it lost the 2007 general election. The Ingraham administration did not follow through with the sale.
The BCPOU and the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)are seeking to block the BTC sale to CWC.
The government has not yet made the memorandum of understanding it signed with CWC public. It may, however, table the document in the House of Assembly on January 19.
“We look forward to that. The public would have two weeks to peruse the terms and conditions of the memorandum of understanding then it will be debated in the House and there has to be a vote. Then it has to go to the Upper House(Senate)and it will be gazetted and then it would be a done deal at that particular time,”Bernard Evans, BCPOU president, said.
“It may be, though, that those in government may have a preconceived notion that this is a done deal for them and you may be right that it is only a matter of going through the motions of procedural matter. But for us we have to hold fast that we still have an opportunity for the government to stand back as the Bahamian people have been asking them to do to stand back and look at this again.”
The MOU between the government and CWC was signed on December 1.
Yesterday, Evans said the unions would continue to oppose the sale. They have argued that BTC should be sold to Bahamians. CWC is a British firm.
Evans said the unions will embark on phase two of their plan tonight with a town meeting in a further bid to force the government to rethink its position.
The unions have marched and protested. They have also threatened a general strike in conjuction with the National Congress of Trade Unions of the Bahamas(NCTUB)and the Trade Union Congress(TUC).
When questioned as to whether the unions think they have the power to stop the deal, Evans said yes.
“We sure as hell are going to try. We are not going down without a fight. We believe that this is worth fighting for. BTC belongs to every Bahamian so every employee in BTC has a stake in it,”he said.