COB, union sign 4-year agreement
A new four-year industrial agreement between The College of The Bahamas and the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas was sealed yesterday, during a private ceremony held in the board room of the college.
The signing brought to an end a two-year battle for the union to have the document signed.
“It is a relief to finally have a document in place, but we still have another hurdle to cross. We have to get it registered. We still have to send it to the Industrial Tribunal to be registered,”UTEB President Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson toldThe Guardianyesterday not long after the ceremony ended.
The media was not invited. It is understood that the arbitrators who helped to broker the deal-Archdeacon James Palacious, Dr. Earl Cash and long time unionist Robert Farquharson-were not on hand to witness the signing.
According to Isaacs-Dotson it was all done in a”rush.”
Reports reachingThe Guardianindicate that during an emergency meeting held with faculty members earlier this week, the union had been instructed to have the document signed by Wednesday or there would have been class disruptions.
“We were concerned having started classes on Monday and a contract had not been signed. They said there would be some disruptions because it would have been like the sixth semester since the last industrial agreement expired that we started classes without a document,”Isaacs-Dotson said.
The college wished to avoid an industrial action, considering that a strike by the union’s membership in April last year hindered the examination process.
College officials refused to comment on the matter yesterday, but a source did confirm the signing took place.
The agreement will expire in 2012. The last contact expired in 2008.
Signing on behalf of the college were Board Chairman T. Baswell Donaldson, President Dr. Betsy Vogel-Boze, and Council Secretary Wendy Poitier-Albury. Signing on behalf of the union were Isaacs-Dotson, UTEB’s Vice-president External Vincente Roberts and Trustee Janet Donnalee.
“Our salaries are not really affected greatly, but there are other benefits within the document that are pretty good. I think overall it is an improvement on what we had,”said Isaacs-Dotson.
“We finally got the promotion increments sorted out. That was a long outstanding trade dispute that we had with the college, when they did not pay persons when they got promoted in the promotions exercise. This document corrects that and it is backdated to 2006,”she explained.
Isaacs-Dotson said that the document contains a very detailed appendix, which speaks to what is expected for the college’s performance assessment and what is expected of faculty when promotions are being considered.
The contract also speaks to a decrease in hours for faculty.
“Right now we teach 12 to 14 hours, with this document in the last year it would be 12 hours,”said Isaacs-Dotson.”Basically, what we did in this document is to fine tune some of the processes that we have particularly when it comes to assigning course, etc.”