Opposition Leader Philip Brave Davis said yesterday a meeting Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis held with union leaders regarding the state of labor relations in The Bahamas was nothing more than “political gimmickry”.
More than 40 leaders from 30 unions met with Minnis and Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes at the Office of the Prime Minister.
“Once I heard about the meeting being announced in the Senate, I thought it was nothing but political gimmickry, just to be able to say that ‘I the prime minister’ or that the prime minister met with all union leaders,” Davis told The Nassau Guardian.
“The level of discontent [and] frustration that resides amongst the workers of this country, that have issues that inform those feelings, not having been addressed over these many months, almost years in some instances, could not have been resolved after having one meeting with all of the unions.
“I think he needs to meet with each union on different levels to address their [individual concerns].
“And I think he would have had a steady diet of complaints from the various quarters or various different unions, and I’m sure in hindsight, he probably would have asked himself, ‘what is this I have gotten myself into?’”
Following the meeting, some of the union heads expressed dissatisfaction in the outcome of the meeting. One union leader called it a courtesy call.
Davis noted that the prime minister should have been frank and transparent with the unions.
“If he just wanted a photo-op with the unions, well then say to them, ‘look, I want y’all to pay a courtesy call on me; y’all could tell me some of the things that are impacting y’all and then from this, the outcome of this will be setting up first meetings or giving directions to how each issue could be addressed,” he said.
“I got the impression that this meeting was to resolve, in effect, the issues that all of the unions, particularly those that the government has some influence over, particularly government entities, that they would be addressing those.
“But alas, there clearly has been no hope or prospects of resolving any of the issues soon, from my reading of what union members and union leaders are now saying. “
Davis added that with no solutions in hand, all the prime minister is doing is “pouring more oil in the fire”.
In recent weeks, members of the Bahamas Nurses Union, the Consultant Physicians Staff Association (CPSA), the Bahamas Doctors Union, the Bahamas Union of Teachers, the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas, the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union, the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union, the Bahamas Communications and Public Managers Union and the Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union have all either demonstrated or threatened industrial action.
The CPSA yesterday continued its sixth day of the withdrawal of services by more than 100 senior physicians throughout the country.