BPSU president hints at possible industrial action
Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President Kimsley Ferguson suggested industrial action is the next move in his union’s bid to get a signed industrial agreement, after not being able to get an audience with Prime Minister Philip Davis.
Ferguson, who hinted at industrial action during an appearance on Morning Blend on Guardian Radio 96.9 FM, said the terms of his industrial agreement will affect some 5,000 public service workers.
According to Ferguson, he is trying to convince the government to say yes to increment payments that will leave workers on the lowest end of the pay scale with at least a $100 increase.
He said in early iterations of the industrial agreements sent by government those, increments ended up amounting to substantially less than $100 for the people who are paid the least.
“The lower end of the scale is going to be disadvantaged,” said Ferguson.
“It’s my job and my responsibility to ensure that the entire bargaining unit is dealt with fairly, and not to particularly agitate for one grouping and leave the other grouping undone.
“And so I need persons to understand this. We don’t want to leave our brothers behind.”
When asked about the next steps for the BPSU, Ferguson said it might now be necessary to “present ourselves in a particular fashion”. He said while he has tried to speak to the government on behalf of his members, it is now time for the members to speak in numbers.
“It may be necessary to present ourselves in a particular fashion, so that the government of The Bahamas can realize that it’s not just Kemsley Ferguson speaking, but the people that Kemsley Ferguson represents now need to speak,” he said.
“We haven’t gotten the audience so it may be necessary now to take the next step in the absence of getting the audience, and express what our concern is in numbers.”
He said there is no time frame in mind for possible industrial action, but the union has a plan that will materialize. However, he contends that he hopes for an amicable end to his union’s dilemma and to restart negotiations on an industrial agreement everyone can live with.
“I would like to say to the prime minister – and of course he always has his people listening with their ears on the ground – lease, we need an audience,” he said.
“I believe that this can be dealt with amicably, and I believe that he is a man of compassion and I think now an executive decision needs to be made.”
Ferguson said the union sent a letter to the Office of the Prime Minister since November 1 but has not receive a response.