Members of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) will now be operating under “reduced enthusiasm” after months of delayed negotiations for a new industrial agreement, BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods announced yesterday.
During a press conference held at the Water and Sewerage Corporation’s (WSC) grounds yesterday, Woods said the union will continue to “up the ante” until its concerns are resolved and also warned that a strike certificate the union already has would be used “in short order”.
“The president, officers and members of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union are once again upset and appalled at the behavior of the executives of the Water and Sewerage Corporation, namely the executive chairman (Adrian Gibson) and general manager (Elwood Donaldson),” Woods said.
“The executives are attempting to minimize the influence of the representative trade union.”
He added, “To our members from Bimini in the north to Inagua in the south, take notice that we are now working with reduced enthusiasm.”
“The union is also appealing to the Most Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Hubert A. Minnis, the Honorable Desmond Bannister and all the stakeholders, to intervene and resolve these matters post haste before it results in a withdrawal of our enthusiasm.”
As he noted that work-to-rule would will be part of the reduced enthusiasm, Woods also said: “We are here today, and we expect results today.
“If we don’t get no results, then we will up the ante. Every day [that] goes by, you will find there is some action by this union until our matters are resolved.”
National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) Assistant Secretary Daniel Thompson was also in attendance and expressed the organization’s support.
“As we listened to the litany of complaints and issues that my brother Woods presented, it is indicative of what’s happening throughout the country when it relates to trade unionism, and indeed the employers and the government at large seem to be engaged in a continuous avoidance of coming to the table, delay tactics, disrespect for workers and other such issues,” said Thompson, who also serves as president of the Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB).
“We hope, through our affiliates, to send that message loud and clear that we stand with our fellow trade unionists and we stand together in this fight. You touch one, you touch all.”
Woods warned that a complete “shutdown” of the corporation could result from the action.
“We have a membership of about 301, and if you look around you will see the management union is also supporting us, so this might be a total shutdown from Bimini to Inagua,” he said.
He added, “The struggle is real.”
Among its concerns is the alleged failure of the corporation to pay employees for overtime work – including on Abaco “in unsavory and unsanitary conditions” in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian; alleged “micromanagement” from Gibson hampering employees and management from performing effectively; failure to comply with Stage 4 of the Grievance Procedure; Responsibility Allowance Payment being discontinued; “heartless” deduction of salary for travel allowance; “unfamiliar method of promotion”; and the “structural collapse” of Human Resources due to absences in management.
One of the major points of concern is also that WSC executives have yet to submit a counter-proposal to the union’s proposed new industrial agreement which it submitted last May.
The previous agreement expired in June 2018.
Attempts to reach Gibson were unsuccessful up to press time.