Line staff at the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) are eyeing a strike vote, Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) President Dwayne Woods said yesterday.
The union has an array of concerns, including: the alleged denial of free usage of office space for union meetings and the alleged denial of an administrative leave for the union president.
“We’re pursuing the strike vote [but] we’ll do nothing out of context,” Woods said.
He added: “We’re going to do whatever it takes to get the matter resolved, but as it stands all we have to do is withdraw our enthusiasm and it’ll take care of itself. We’re never closing the door for conciliation. We’ll leave the door open for conciliation but enough is enough. Everybody gets tired at one point.
“We’re headed toward the strike vote and whenever that comes about, you know, the union will always keep the strike [vote] as a back-pocket item. So, whenever we need to pull that we know just how to do that.”
WSC Chairman Adrian Gibson declined to comment on the matter.
However, the government announced yesterday WSC will hold a press conference to address the issue tomorrow.
When reached for comment, Director of Labour John Pinder said he has advised WSC not “to show any discrimination” against Woods.
“If there’s something in their contract, they cannot violate it,” he said.
Speaking to the press outside the Department of Labour, Woods said BUSAWU was disappointed and displeased by the reported attempts by WSC to “blatantly disrespect the union in unilaterally rolling back four benefits, which is a breach of a multiplicity of articles contained in our industrial agreement, the Employment Act and the Industrial Relations Act on the heels of a presentation of a new contractual proposal”.
“We would like to put all of our members on notice of the above and beg the stakeholders, especially the minister of labor, minister of works and the prime minister to intervene before it results in the withdrawal of enthusiasm of our members after this conciliation stage,” he said.
Woods said it has been “customary for more than 13 years” for the BUSAWU president to be granted an administrative leave from his duties as an employee of the company, and it can only be reversed with mutual agreement between parties.
He said for the past 35 years the union has been allowed to host union meetings on WSC property after normal working hours.
“However, since the new board took office, the police were called in on the union’s meeting resulting in the president receiving a letter threatening the union with eviction and the rescindment of the union’s administrative leave,” Woods said.