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Pinder: Airport Authority staff may take industrial action if increments not paid

Bahamas Public Service Union President John Pinder said that workers at the Lynden Pindling International Airport employed by the Airport Authority are prepared to take industrial action if officials of the authority do not pay outstanding increments by the end of November.

Pinder told The Nassau Guardian on Wednesday, “I would like to put them on notice that we have written to them asking for one or two things to be done [and] we’ve not gotten any positive response as yet from them.

“I will go as far as to let them know that we will write one more time to them; after that they can expect, if nothing happens favorably, industrial action.”

The increments were owed from 2009, Pinder said.  The government put a freeze on all increments in the public sector in 2010, which was lifted this year.

Pinder said that the staff members were supposed to receive the increments from July 1, 2011.

“The Airport Authority indicated that they could not have done it in July, [and they wished] to do it in October, which they did, but they only want to retroactively pay them for one month, knowing full well the agreement speaks to them paying them retroactive to July,” he said.

“I spoke with the general manager and human resource personnel at the Airport Authority and they indicated that their intentions were to only make good on the payment in October.  I subsequently had an informal discussion with the chairman and he indicated that the authority is in no condition to pay retroactive to July, which we understand, but you cannot take away those persons’ increments from July to September and only pay for October.

He continued, “If they do not change their position on paying the three months to the staff, we will do what it takes to cause them to make those payments.”

Chairman of the Airport Authority Frank Watson said yesterday that the authority may be, “looking at July next year as the incremental date” to pay the staff.

Watson confirmed that the authority “was unable to pay in July”, but made payments in October.

“We are doing what we can with the resources [that] we have,” he said.

“He (Pinder) knows that we are working to improve the salaries and conditions at the authority.”

Pinder also claimed that the authority is trying to recover salaries from persons by suspending them without pay for taking sick days.

“They are going back to the person’s file and trying to take salaries from them for sick leave.  In most cases persons are entitled to the six call-in days and they are entitled to 20 sick days within the year.

Watson said, “Under the agreement they are entitled to their sick days,” adding that if employees go over their allotted sick days, then they get a salary cut.

“We don’t cut them (salaries) immediately; that’s a long process.”

Pinder also said that there are a number of security issues that are plaguing the staff.

“We’ve also gotten a number of complaints about vehicles being stolen out of the parking lot at the airport, and vehicles beng broken into and vandalized.”

He said he’s asking for 24-hour security to be placed in the parking lot.  He also wants the Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD) to install a security swipe card system.

Watson said that NAD “has been working diligently to make it more secure for the parking lot.”

“Airport Authority just missed a car the other day, so we know about the situation. They (NAD) are trying to take steps to address those issues.”

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