Monday, Sep 23, 2019
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BUT wants 12 percent salary hikes

The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) wants a 12 percent salary increase over a three-year period for its members and 100 percent medical insurance coverage, according to president Belinda Wilson.

Wilson yesterday foreshadowed a stand-off between the union and the Ministry of Education over a new industrial agreement.

“We will not have a tailor-made collective bargaining agreement because we are a specific group and we will deal with each item on the basis of our union and what it is that we would have proposed,” Wilson said.

The union’s agreement expired on June 30.

Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald said the government wants a more uniformed approach to such agreements.

Fitzgerald said new agreements will be drafted to be more in line with each other as it relates to compensation and benefits.

“The Ministry of Labour is the one that has taken the lead with all of these collective bargaining agreements with the various unions because of the inconsistencies that exist between these agreements,” he said on Monday.

“Over the next couple of years as these agreements expire we will bring consistency to them to ensure there is not this disparity with rights, compensation, and put persons essentially on the same level within the public service.”

But Wilson said her union is not going to accept that.

She said that in addition to the 12 percent salary increase, the union also wants a complete revision of salary scales.

“We presented 58 salary scales to the government,” Wilson said. “We are asking for the government to revise all of our salary scales under the category of workers we have under our bargaining unit.

“We have also asked for 100 percent coverage for the major medical insurance and you can see as our teachers are working in these kinds of environments we need 100 percent medical coverage.

“We are really working in unhealthy and unsafe environments.”

The union president was referring to the mold problem discovered at Uriah McPhee and Steven Dillet primary schools. The problem led to sit-ins last week.

Fitzgerald said the agreement for the BUT will be “critical” and will set the standard moving forward.

Wilson said the BUT presented the government with its proposal on May 10 and is still awaiting a counter proposal.

Fitzgerald told The Nassau Guardian he expects to present a draft version of that agreement to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

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