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BEC middle managers engage in sick-out

The majority of the middle managers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation(BEC)called in sick yesterday, furthering the dispute between the group and the corporation over a new industrial agreement.

This is the second time within a month that members of the Bahamas Electrical Utility Managers Union(BEUMU)withdrew their labor.

BEC chairman Michael Moss confirmed yesterday that the majority of the 100-plus middle managers called in sick.

The move by the managers came one day after BEC made an offer to the managers that was rejected.

“It was not received kindly by the managers. Ninety percent of the managers called in sick,”a union source toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.

The Nassau Guardianunderstands that the union is asking for a 10.5 percent pay increase over four years.

The last industrial agreement between the parties expired in 2007.

In a statement released yesterday, 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.

The corporation also said it was disappointed with the decision taken by some managers to engage in a sick-out, considering that it continues to meet with the mangerial union.

“While the old industrial agreement expired in 2007, employees in the BEUMU bargaining unit at BEC continued to receive their salaries and emoluments. Managers also would have received annual increments ranging between$1,600 and$2,100. These increases equate to approximately three percent via salary increments.

“Additionally, they would have received attractive Christmas bonuses. Moreover, the corporation continues to maintain and pay for full medical coverage for employees and(it)provides a non-contributory pension plan requiring payments in excess of 13 percent of annual salaries for all of its employees,”the corporation explained.

BEC called on the union to be reasonable and to negotiate in good faith.

More than three weeks ago, middle managers at the corporation voted 78-1 in favor of a strike. However, the union has not made the decision to strike pending the outcome of negotiations with the corporation.

Regarding the sick-out, a union source said,”This is just the start. We could go to another level because we may ask the junior union for their support and then nobody would be at work.”

It is unclear whether the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union(BEWU), the union representing hundreds of line-staffers at BEC, would enter the dispute.

Moss said BEC’s executive management team was shocked by the industrial action, considering that a negotiation session was held Wednesday and another was scheduled for yesterday.

Timothy Ingraham sti
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