Minister of Labour Shane Gibson said yesterday that there has been a delay in the payment for some 600 plus Bahamas Customs and Immigrations Officers.
According to Minister Gibson, the Ministry of Finance indicated as much after explaining to him dispersing such a large sum of money is a tedious task, as officials have to go in and pay each person manually.
Mr. Gibson outside of Cabinet told reporters that he is disappointed by the holdup but sadly there is nothing he can do at this time.
“I don’t know what happened and I don’t want to give any excuses, but I am upset over the fact that they weren’t paid and the plans were changed,” he said.
“I did not make that announcement until I met with finance, so it is disappointing to me that we would have an agreement to pay by the end of this week and then we would hear all of these excuses as to why it cannot be done.”
Just two weeks ago, Customs and Immigration officers were given an offer to which they agreed.
The officers would fill out a necessary application in order to receive back pay and other dues.
Ninety percent of 569 customs officers and 176 of 300 immigration officers handed in applications.
Considering the setback, Minister Gibson said they must now go back to the drawing board to figure out how to rectify the issue.
“I heard they’ll be paid at the end of this week,” he said.
“At this stage it’s out of my hands, I did what I was supposed to do. I got the commitment from finance, and they didn’t deliver so I’m just waiting to see when it will be done.”
During the whole process, Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union President Sloane Smith has openly accused the minister of playing politics during this election season as it relates to the payout process.
Mr. Gibson said he does not hear from Mr. Smith and therefore Mr. Smith is not a part of the equation.
“He has not contacted me, no matter what he’ll tell you,” he said.
“That’s why the members came directly to the government because they were not receiving the benefit they should receive through the unions.”