Saturday, Jun 6, 2020
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Unrest at WSC is mainly political, not industrial

Dear Editor,

Labour Minister Dion Foulkes will play the role of an umpire between Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson and executives of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) and Water and Sewerage Management’s Union (WSMU) when he seeks to resolve their differences. However, Foulkes might be walking into a hornet’s nest.

Despite the denials of the two WSC unions, it is too much of a coincidence that the water supply in some parts of the capital was shut off during an unrest, with little regard for critically ill patients and infants at Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH).

Obviously the saboteurs care more about their political cause than the country, and are determined to embarrass the Minnis administration in the process. If PMH patients, whether Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) or Free National Movement (FNM) supporters, are harmed in the process, then so be it. The main objective is to weaken the Minnis administration.

I am not saying that WSMU and BUSAWU are responsible for the sabotage. Nor am I disavowing. I have my suspicions. However, I would hope that the two unions have not fallen into the trap of thinking that Bahamians are stupid.

The differences between Gibson and union executives are irreconcilable, as Foulkes and the FNM government should know by now, especially in light of rumors circulating on social media that operatives of the said unions are diametrically opposed to the governing party. It is my contention that the main motivating factor for the current unrest is partisan politics, not the typical, run of the mill industrial disruption that the country has become accustomed to since the advent of value-added tax (VAT) by many of the government unions.

At one end of the political spectrum are operatives who are accustomed to riding on the gravy train at the expense of Bahamian taxpayers; at the other end is the young executive chairman who is adamant on watching the public coffers. At one end of the political spectrum are those who believe in political cronyism; at the other end is an innovator who subscribes to meritocracy. At one end of the political spectrum is a group imbued with tribalism; at the other end is a chairman attempting to be nonpartisan and professional.

In short, what we are witnessing is a clash of two political worldviews. It’s like an irresistible force about to collide with an immovable object. Indeed, the political crisis at WSC is a case study on how the FNM administration will negotiate its way out of this political quagmire that its political opponents in the two unions are attempting to lead it into.

– Kevin Evans

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