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UTEB hopes to have new agreement by July

Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) President Daniel Thompson said the union intends to begin negotiations for its new industrial agreement (IA) this month and is aiming for it to be completed by July 1 of this year.

“Within the next few days, the president in his monthly meeting will be meeting with the union executives and at that meeting we will be bringing up the whole idea of jump-starting this new leg of the negotiation for the 2020-2025 [industrial agreement],” Thompson said.

“…We expect that by July 1st we’ll be under a new IA because when you delay signing an industrial agreement, it is always to the detriment of the worker.”

As he pointed to some union members not having received promotions in years, Thompson stressed that delaying the signing poses a concern as “it is not a healthy thing for an institution to be engaged in promotions six years back”.

“We have had delayed promotions at the university and as a result of that, we are now engaged in a promotion exercise as far as back as 2014, 2015,” he said.

He added, “By virtue of the delay, you have disadvantaged that faculty for five to six years. That’s what happens when there is delay.

“And so, it is incumbent on UTEB to ensure that there is no delay in the signing of this IA because to delay is dangerous. We want to ensure that on July 1 we are current and we are in the 2020-2025 IA.”

Only two months ago the union finally completed its agreement with the University of The Bahamas for the 2017-2020 period, following some instances of union members demonstrating out of frustration.

But as Thompson noted, the issue of promotions is being addressed through an exercise which is currently ongoing through summer in order to bring the members current; and that an implemented schedule should prevent further backlogs. He expressed confidence in UB President Dr. Rodney Smith’s ability to again come to an agreement with the union.

“We’re confident that this president, Dr. Rodney Smith, will ensure that we complete this agreement before July so he can pen that and then in July we have a provision that’s already enshrined in this current IA, where we get a lump sum and another 3.3 [percent] increase in overall salaries,” Thompson said.

He added, “I am confident that Smith is going to ensure that his legacy is crowned with two industrial agreements; and more important, with an industrial agreement that doesn’t expire and transitioning to a new one without an expiration.”

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