While noting that his union has not ruled out the possibility of a strike vote, Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson said the union will not stand by idly “and allow the gap between the haves and the have nots to continue to widen”.
His comments followed a meeting with the prime minister, deputy prime minister and other members of the Cabinet on Saturday morning.
“While we hear them and we have a degree of understanding, the Bahamas Public Services Union and the remaining portion of my colleagues are of the view that there are still areas that the government can explore to address the financial concerns of unions,” Ferguson said.
He added, “I would’ve had a discussion with the prime minister, who said that he would get back to me at some point between now and Monday so that we can have something to tell the membership.
“But I’m going to tell you, the Bahamas Public Services Union is not going to sit by and allow the gap between the haves and the have nots to continue to widen.
“Our job is to ensure that persons’ heads can remain above water and that Bahamians can survive and that is really what it’s all about.”
He said his union wants to conclude several industrial agreements that have not yet been renegotiated, so his members can have an understanding “about how they’re going to be able to shape their lives”.
Last week, hundreds of members of the BPSU marched on Bay Street to the Cabinet office, demanding money they say is owed to them by the government.
During that demonstration, Ferguson expressed concern about the union’s industrial agreement, which expired in 2017.
The BPSU has reportedly proposed a $250 base salary increase per month in the first year, a lump sum payment of $2,500 in the second year and another $200 pay raise per month for its members in the third year.
On Saturday, when asked if his union was eyeing a strike vote, Ferguson said, “There are some areas that we’re exploring now to address that particular item. We represent a number of corporations and authorities.
“We’ve found ourselves at a particular point with regards to our industrial agreements where all the non-financial aspects would’ve been signed off on and for whatever reason there is a reluctance to give counter proposals.”