BEC managers continue sick-out
The decision by managers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation(BEC)to continue a sick-out in protest of stalled negotiations over a new industrial agreement is not in the best interest of the country, Minister of State for the Environment Phenton Neymour said yesterday.
“We are able to sit down and negotiate quickly. We all know that BEC is challenged financially and has been so for a number of years. And so that has to be taken into consideration by its managers,”Neymour said.
“They need to give consideration that the assets of BEC need significant improvement and we need them at their work stations in order to achieve better services for BEC.”
Around 100 of the corporation’s middle managers are participating in the sick-out. The sick-out continued yesterday for a second day. The Bahamas Electrical Utilities Management Union(BEUMU)has been without an industrial agreement with BEC since 2007.
Neymour said the sick-out has had no major impact on the corporation thus far.
“Both the line staff and executive management have so far filled in, but I am of the view that it is important that BEC’s financial position, its position in regards to providing services to consumers, is seriously considered by the union,”Neymour said.
The minister added that he is available to meet with the union if it wishes to have a meeting.
In a statement released Thursday, BEC said it recently offered the BEUMU $500,000 to be shared among its 120 members for the 2007-2010 period. For the period 2010-2013, BEC offered a two percent increase in addition to the near three percent increments and/or annual lump sum payments proffered.
“BEC considers its offer to the union most reasonable, especially as the corporation seeks to rebound from years of financial instability and taking into account the other benefits that its staff continues to enjoy,”the corporation said.
Yesterday, BEUMU president Irvin Dean said,”We will start intensifying as we go and we have not even reached the strike action yet. When we decide to go that route we will call on all the other unions for support and then they will have a bigger problem.”
BEC public relations officer Arnette Ingraham said there has been no indication that the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union which represents BEC line staff will participate in the industrial action.
According to Ingraham, no decision has been made by BEC on possible pay cuts for those who participated in the sick-out.
Dean has called on Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes to assist in order to resolve the dispute.