The injunction preventing Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) workers from striking was extended again yesterday, with no clear date for when the inter partes hearing for the injunction will take place, as first a judicial review regarding presidency of the Water and Sewerage Management Union (WSMU) must take place.
That judicial review was yesterday scheduled for March 20 before Justice Indra Charles.
However, attorney Wayne Munroe – who represents Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) President Dwayne Woods and one of the men claiming to be the WSMU president, Montgomery Miller – suggested that the ongoing fight between WSC unions and WSC could continue in the meantime.
Attorney Lakeisha Hanna, who represents WSC, told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that the inter partes hearing is expected to take place only after a ruling has been made on the judicial review.
“It was decided, the judicial review proceedings will be held first and then after the judicial review proceedings have been heard and the ruling rendered, then the parties will continue with the inter partes hearing for the injunction application,” she said.
“So, the injunction has been continued to the 20th of March and on that day, Justice Charles will hear the judicial review proceedings that have been brought by Mr. [Ednel] Rolle.”
Rolle is the second man claiming to be president of the WSMU.
BUSAWU officially went on strike on February 11, over frustration with a number of grievances, but the matter was eventually referred to the Industrial Tribunal on February 12, after Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes said it “threatened the public interest”.
Chief Justice Brian Moree then granted WSC the injunction on February 14, after the striking workers refused to go back to work even though the unions were informed that the minister of labor had referred the matter to the Industrial Tribunal.
While Rolle claimed the union was striking, Miller claimed the opposite, leading to the deadlock, which is the matter of the judicial review.
Despite this, Munroe said that some WSC managers would be pursuing separate court action over some of the grievances previously expressed, namely the transfer of several workers and termination of another.
“Well, striking is not the only tool that a union has in its toolkit,” said Munroe.
“It has many tools in its toolkit that it can use to address matters.”
He added, “If the employers continue not to engage with it, there is the court and wherein the court costs money for persons when they lose, as the government learned with the Gaming Board matter, and so they are going to have to take stock of what they want to d[o].”
On February 17, Charles ordered the immediate reinstatement of 24 Gaming Board employees after ruling that they were illegally dismissed in 2017.
Munroe represented the plaintiffs in that case, and said it would be “duncey” for anyone who has seen the result of that ruling to not take heed of employee agreements.
“The collective bargaining agreement is clear about transfers,” he said in reference to the recent termination of the WSC manager.
He added, “[T]he collective bargaining agreement called for them to consult and get consent, so it would be mind boggling that they, having been privy to one judgement where the court says it’s mind boggling that you don’t follow what you agree you’re going to follow [that] you’d do it again.
“It’s almost like you’re intentionally being duncey there. You have to be intentionally being duncey because the court just told you if it’s to consult, consult.
“If your collective bargaining agreement says consult, consult. You’re not God, there’s a price to pay.”