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Mass sick-out at Gaming Board

About 90 percent of the Gaming Board’s unionized staff members called in sick yesterday after the government rejected their proposed industrial agreement.

Bahamas Public Service Union (BPSU) president John Pinder said the Gaming Board’s old industrial agreement expired in 2009 and the union has been attempting to negotiate a new agreement since.

However, Pinder said the government refuses to give those workers pay increases, which is preventing the conclusion of a new industrial agreement.

Pinder said three salary proposals were sent to the government and the Gaming Board staff has been disappointed with the feedback received regarding the salary increases. The staff is also disappointed that the government did not come back with a counterproposal, Pinder said.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, who has Cabinet responsibility for the Gaming

Board, said the government has not implemented any significant salary increases for the public sector. Under the current economic conditions, it is difficult for the government to do so, the minister added.

Vanderpool-Wallace described the sick-out as “unfortunate” the day after the government rejected the union’s latest proposal.

Despite the sick-out, Vanderpool-Wallace said the Gaming Board was operational yesterday.

The management at the board notified all of the casinos across The Bahamas that the sick-out was taking place to ensure that nothing “untoward” happened on those properties, the minister said.

“We will be vigilant over the course of a couple days to ensure that we don’t do anything to disrupt the operation of the casinos,” added Vanderpool-Wallace.

Pinder said the union and the workers are not satisfied with how they are being treated by the government, adding that many of the workers have suffered “mental stress” and “financial embarrassment” waiting for the government to provide salary increases, increments and a lump sum payment.

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