Members of the Bahamas Utilities Services and Allied Workers Union (BUSAWU) and the Water and Sewerage Management Union (WSMU) went on strike yesterday and claimed they will not return to work until Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson is removed from his post and they have a new and signed industrial agreement in hand.
The announcement was made during a press conference held across from the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) which was attended by about 75 WSC workers as well as representatives and executives from various unions including the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB).
BUSAWU President Dwayne Woods made similar calls for Gibson’s removal last April as employees “withdrew enthusiasm”.
“We are on full strike from Bimini to Inagua,” he announced yesterday.
“We have a few demands. We posted a list of outstanding items to the tune of seven last week, and we will add to that today the departure from the Water and Sewerage Corporation of the executive chairman.”
The other demands cited, including the counter proposal, relate to: overtime and holiday pay for post-Hurricane Dorian work; shift premium pay; the alleged hiring of new employees without existing employees having been given a chance to be promoted; docked salary for travel expenses; and removal of allowances for certain employees.
Noting that Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister “has already gone on record as saying that he supports the executive chairman”, Woods again called on Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis to intervene.
“So we call on the prime minister now to do the honorable thing and please, in the name of Jesus, remove Mr. Gibson and take us out of Egypt.”
WSMU President Ednel Rolle and NCTUB President Bernard Evans echoed those calls yesterday, while WSC workers at the conference chanted “chairman got to go”.
“Both unions are out here today having to exercise the strike certificate due to the bullying of that executive chairman, Mr. Adrian Gibson,” Rolle said.
“Now, both him and the general manager (Elwood Donaldson) seem to have a problem with organization skills. They clearly have no idea how the Water and Sewerage Corporation works. They do what they please, to the detriment of workers.”
He added, “Both unions have agreed, we have a memorandum of understanding, that…we aren’t going nowhere near [WSC] until our contract is signed and they have sent a counter proposal to [Woods].
“That’s how you get us to the table so we can discuss these other issues, but we aren’t moving no place until that has happened.”
Evans, meanwhile, said government made a mistake in appointing Gibson.
“This is a prime example of someone in the wrong place,” he said.
“Obviously he’s run his course, and the people are saying, from what I’m hearing, you’re not going to go back until he’s removed, and so we only ask the prime minister – and I will make a personal call to the prime minister on behalf of the TUC asking for Executive Chairman Adrian Gibson to be removed.”
This latest action is the culmination of several clashes between the unions and WSC within the last week.
WSC executives could not be reached for comment yesterday, however in a press release last week the corporation said it is “feverishly working on our counter proposal”.
Meanwhile, Montgomery L.M. Miller, who also claims to be president of the WSMU, said in a press release that he intends to hold a press conference today on the same matter.