The National Insurance Board (NIB) yesterday experienced “service-level disruptions” which led to the closure of offices on two Family Islands after more than 300 of its employees across The Bahamas called in sick.
“The National Insurance Board wishes to advise the public that we are experiencing service-level disruptions throughout New Providence and Family Island offices,” NIB said in a statement.
It added, “NIB’s offices in Fresh Creek, Andros; Rock Sound and North Eleuthera are closed today. All other Family Island offices are open.”
NIB said all of its locations on New Providence opened, noting that operations at its Wulff Road and Fox Hill offices resumed at 1 p.m. yesterday.
“At this time, the Wulff Road and Fox Hill offices will continue to provide all services to the public, except cashier services for contributions payments and the distribution of short-term benefits checks,” NIB said.
“NIB Headquarters at the Clifford Darling Complex on Baillou Hill Road, continues to provide full service to the public during normal business hours. Customers seeking to make contribution payments should visit NIB headquarters or use the check drop box at the Cable Beach post office.”
Yesterday’s sickout came one day after scores of NIB employees protested outside the company’s headquarters on Baillou Hill Road.
Among other issues, the Union of Public Officers (UPO), which represents NIB’s 400 line staff, is concerned with unfair hiring practices, stagnated industrial agreement negotiations and delayed issuance in benefits.
When reached for a comment about the sick-out, UPO President Marvin Duncombe told The Nassau Guardian, “I can’t tell you exactly what’s happening but I’ve received some calls from my members to indicate that some of them are not feeling well today.
“Those persons who are not feeling well, they’ve spoken to their supervisors and have reported that they are sick today. I got a couple calls from members to say that and they are exercising their constitutional right to be sick.
“I believe that something is going on at the National Insurance Board, some viruses [are] happening maybe and you need to know that NIB is a run-down facility where mold is all over the building. We’ve been talking to the management privately about improving the facilities there but, of course, we don’t seem to be priority in this sense.”
Asked if the union expects employees to be sick through next week, Duncombe said, “I don’t know. I’m hoping that our people feel better. I have prayed this morning and asked God to send his blessings on the staff of NIB.”
Speaking about the sick-out, Minister of Public Service and National Insurance Brensil Rolle said, “I wish them well at the doctors.”
He said the management at NIB will have no issues with the union’s actions so long as it “sits within the law”.
“The union brass believes this is a strategy they must engage in but we are comfortable,” he said.
“We are level-headed.”
Rolle added, “I did meet with the executive management team of NIB and we have a strategic plan in place on what we will do if the members continue to engage in a sickout.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice