After two years of negotiations, Morton Salt Bahamas Limited yesterday signed a new five-year industrial agreement with the Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU).
According to BIMAWU President Jennifer Brown, the new agreement includes a wage increase, shift premium increases, a Christmas bonus increase, and a production bonus.
Although officials didn’t give the exact amount of those increases, Brown told The Nassau Guardian that members will receive an additional $1,000 lump sum payment each year for the first two years, and a three percent increase each year during the last three years.
“I’m more than elated today that we have reached an agreement and officially signed this agreement. It’s been almost two years now, and the workers are very happy. Now, I hope that when we return to Inagua, both management and union will work together because if you don’t work together, although we have a contract, it would not work,” she said.
“I will encourage my members to work. Give the company eight hours’ work a day, an honest day. [There] won’t be any loafing, and we hope that management in turn treats all workers fairly. I mean, you can always sign a paper document and say [that] we’ve reached an agreement, but we need to put this into practice.”
Back in June, the company initially proposed a 1.5 percent pay increase to their workers, and greatly increased health insurance contributions by workers.
Employees labelled this as a “modern-day slave trade”.
Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said that both parties held two marathon meetings on September 30 and October 1, to conclude matters.
“As you know, Morton Salt is the largest private employer in Inagua, and it is very essential for the government, workers and management that we reach this agreement for the sustainability of the economy of Inagua,” he said.
“So, this is a great day for all in Inagua. It’s a great day especially for the workers. As minister of labor, I’m very pleased that this happened. During the negotiations, talks were very frank and at times very tense. But as I always said, once we continued to talk, we all would reach an agreement.”
The union, which represents some 100 line staff, had been “pushed” to take strike action after the company made no improvements to its purported counter-offer.
In June, Morton Executives also threatened to lock employees out of its Inagua plant after the union failed to attend several meetings to negotiate the new industrial agreement.
Back in November 2018, 70 members of the union took a strike vote with 68 voting in favor of a strike and two against, according to Director of Labour John Pinder.
“At Morton Bahamas Limited, we are committed to fostering a productive working relationship with our employees. We have reached a five-year agreement with our employees. We’re proud of our operation in Inagua where we [were in operation] from 1954,” said Morton’s General Manager Michael Scott Nixon.
“We’re looking to continuing being a part of the community. Our historical and continued support for the community of Matthew Town in Great Inagua is unquestioned. We are the number one employer, like the minister said, on the island and continuously take great measures to support the local community and economy. Again, we are more than excited to have reached an agreement with the BIMAWU.”