Strike vote today by BEC middle managers
More than 100 middle managers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will go through with their planned strike vote today, as they continue to fight for a new industrial agreement.
Bahamas Electrical Utility Managerial Union(BEUMU) President Irvin Dean said the polls are scheduled to open at 9 a.m. at the House of Labour on Wulff Road and close some eight hours later at 5 p.m.
The strike vote takes place a week after the managers called in sick, in protest of the failure of BEC’s executive management to present them with a proposal for a new agreement. The old agreement expired more than three years ago.
Dean said he expects the majority of the middle managers to participate in today’s poll.
“I am in the process of making plans now to fly in Family Island managers if we have to. If there is a local office on each of the islands then they will vote there and that is as simple as it is. We are going to try to get this thing done before midday tomorrow and then we will announce what the results are. We think that we are going to have an overwhelming majority in support of a strike,”he said.
On Tuesday, in a last minute attempt to stave off the strike vote, BEC’s executive management sent a letter to the labor body, but Dean said it only identified the persons of the corporation’s negotiating team. He also stressed that there was no mention of a meeting date.
Dean toldThe Nassau Guardianthat he responded via a letter, suggesting that a meeting be held this Friday. He accused BEC’s management of using stalling tactics.
“We don’t plan on this dragging on forever. This is another approach of procrastination, and it is not going to work,”Dean said.”We are sticking to our position. We are going to invoke Article 47(of the Industrial Relations Act), which means to roll the contract forward, plain and simple. We don’t have to negotiate anything. They just need to bring a calculator.”
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.
He said while the vote will take place today, it does not mean that industrial action will immediately follow. He warned, however, that the employees”are hot and angry.”
“We are going to the negotiation meeting in good faith and we will see what the mood is like. If it looks like they are going to drag it on, then we are going to have a problem,”he said.
Up to press time yesterday, Dean was unwilling to disclose what impact it would have on the corporation if the middle managers were to pull their services. In the past, the corporation sought to station security personnel at various BEC sites in a bid to counteract any possible attempt to disrupt services.
All attempts to speak with BEC General Manager Kevin Basden proved futile up to press time last night.