Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism Chester Cooper said yesterday’s sickout at Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) and 17 Family Island airports negatively impacted the country’s economy and left everyone on the losing end.
“Let me just say that as a result of this action, there are all losers,” Cooper said.
“This is an issue of significance to the economy and to the tourism industry, our reputation as a country and tourist destination.
“The actions were not only illegal but most unfortunate. It was disappointing that we were not able to achieve the type of compromise and patience from the union. Suffice to say we are moving forward. We’ve reopened dialogue with the president of the union.
“Our objective is to restore a level of normalcy at the airport, the operations and to facilitate traveling Bahamian public and tourists in a normal way and that’s what we are seeking to do today and over the course of the next few days.”
The industrial action caused operations at LPIA to slow to a crawl yesterday, resulting in great frustration among passengers, as members of the Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) took action over the government’s failure to conclude an industrial agreement and provide money union officials say is owed.
As a result, Cooper said a number of tourists and Bahamians missed their flights yesterday. He added that the Minitry of Tourism did what it could to facilitate the passengers and help them rebook flights.
He said while a contingency plan was in place, the situation at the airport became unacceptable during peak hours due to the sheer volume of passengers.
Last night, a Supreme Court judge declared that the BPSU is in breach of the Industrial Relations Act by calling a strike among its members who are workers at airports in the country.
The minister said only some employees returned to work this morning.
“We have a significant level of sick slips signed by local physicians for employees who have not yet returned to work,” he said.
“We are hoping that this will end in short order. We are in ongoing dialogue with the president of the union.”