Unions pose’nat’l security threat’
The unions’fight to oust Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC)as the purchaser of the majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)has created a national security threat, Minister of National Security Tommy Turnquest suggested yesterday.
However, a trade union head rebutted, saying the charged is unwarranted and unfair.
Turnquest toldThe Nassau Guardianthat the Royal Bahamas Police Force(RBPF)and Royal Bahamas Defence Force(RBDF)are on alert for any signs of a”threat”as a result of the sale of BTC to CWC and the growing tension radiating from the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union(BCPOU), the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union(BCPMU)and other unions that oppose the sale.
“We have to maintain the development of The Bahamas and the national security of The Bahamas,”he said.”And so we are ready for any threat.”
While not saying what information the RBPF and RBDF have about the unions and their plans, or how the information is being acquired, the minister intimated that both of those entities have credible information.
“We know what we know and we’re prepared for what we know,”he said.
When asked if the unions’fight against CWC represented a national threat, Turnquest said simply,”Absolutely.”
The Guardianunderstands that even the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA)has been put on alert as the threat of widespread industrial unrest looms.
Newly elected president of the National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson said looking at the unions’fight in this way is unfair.
“We have the right to assemble, according to a convention,”said Isaacs-Dotson.”You mean we can’t have a rally without the police and defence force being on high alert?”
The BTC unions, in the early days of their fight against BTC’s sale to CWC, garnered much support from other national trade unions as well as several influential church leaders. However, that support has since softened on some fronts.
What has not been subdued, however, is the unions’threat of a national strike should the government not squash the BTC/CWC deal.
Several possible dates for a national strike have been floated around the public. However, the unions have not yet said when one might occur.
The government’s deal with CWC does not appear to have been affected by the fierce opposition from the unions. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham even suggested in a recent speech that he would never relent to pressure from the unions.
While a national strike seems to be the only union recourse, some suggest it could only serve to dampen support for their cause, which has ballooned from a fight for Bahamian ownership of BTC, to a broad national campaign for more significant Bahamian ownership.
The campaign is termed”Bahamas for Bahamians”.