BEC managers stage ‘sick-out’
Managers of the Bahamas Electricity Corporation(BEC)staged a sick-out yesterday in an act of industrial unrest by the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union(BEWU)according to its president, Irvin Dean.
Dean said the union is agitating for BEC to either negotiate a new industrial agreement, which hasn’t happened for four years, or adhere to the conventions of the old agreement, which it claims BEC is not doing.
“We have been communicating with them regulary, writing back and forth, but still nothing has been done,”he said.”The president of the Trade Union Congress(Obie Ferguson)wrote to them and still no response.”
Dean suggested a clause in the old agreement states that if a new industrial agreement cannot be negotiated the old agreement, which expired September 2007, would have to be honored by the corporation.
“If you don’t agree to a new one, this one starts over again,”he said.
“And they refuse to acknowledge that.
“They are refusing to comply with the industrial agreement and the laws of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
BEC Chairman Micheal Moss said executive management at the corporation attempted to negotiate a new payment schedule for managers that involved a performance based salary structure.
However, Moss said while the BEWU heads accepted the offer in principal, the rest of their membership later rejected it.
“The union is correct,”Moss said.
“The agreement has remained outstanding for a while and we met with the union a few months ago and spoke with the union on the view that BEC managers, who are highly paid, ought to have their salaries linked to the performance of the place(BEC).
“They(BEWU union heads)agreed in principal and some time later they said they could not sell it to their membership.”
The BEWU thinks BEC management is against adhering to the old agreement because it has a money clause embedded in it that calls for salary increases. He claimed that none of his members received raises in five years.
BEC released a statement on the”sick-out”yesterday suggesting executive management had no idea that industrial action was forthcoming.
“While the corporation is aware that the BEUMU held discussions with its membership on Wednesday, February 9, 2011, BEC’s executive management was not apprised of the union’s concerns coming out of this meeting,”the statement said.
“The Bahamas Electricity Corporation advises that some of its managerial staff have orchestrated and are engaged in an apparent’sick-out’…BEC would like to inform its customers in New Providence and the Family Islands that measures have been put in place to minimize any possible disruption to electricity supplies as a result of the action taken by the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union(BEUMU).”