Foulkes: Morton to hold off on lockout
Morton Bahamas Ltd. will hold off on its promised lockout of employees to continue negotiations, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said yesterday.
“I am attempting to encourage both sides to refrain from any action that may affect the operation of the plant and affect the economic situation at Matthew Town, Inagua,” he said outside Cabinet.
“Both management and the union have agreed to halt any anticipated or proposed action. From the union side, they have agreed not to engage in any industrial action. And from the management side, they have agreed to hold off on any potential lockout of the plant.”
The Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) and the Inagua plant have been negotiating a new agreement for several months.
The union has taken issue with employee wages, vacation times and retirement pay, and its members overwhelmingly voted to strike in November.
In a letter dated June 18, Morton Bahamas Ltd. Chief Negotiator Christopher Getaz said the offer the company provided on June 13 was its “best and final” offer, and the union had 15 days from the date of the letter to accept the proposal or the company would lock employees out of the plant.
However, Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson said the union was unmoved by the lockout threats and would not accept the offer, which he said was the same one the company had offered over a year ago.
Foulkes said that the issue is a top priority for the government, and that he expects a meeting on the matter to take place next week.
“We are trying to set up a meeting as soon as possible,” he said.
“The lead negotiator resides in Chicago and we are trying to confirm a date that is convenient for Mr. Obie Ferguson, who is the lead negotiator for the union.
“We anticipate that maybe next week or the week after next, we will be able to have a meeting. I will chair that meeting to see to what extent we can bring a resolution to all of the issues at Morton Salt.
“This is a top priority for the prime minister. This is a top priority for the government to have the matter at Morton Salt settled.”
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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