Categorized | National News

BEC Christmas Bonouses In Limbo

Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Chairman Leslie Miller said he is standing firm on the board’s decision to defer Christmas bonouses for BEC workers this year, but noted that executives are still continuing discussions with the unions that represent the workers.

It’s the latest move by the corporation to save money.

The decision is not sitting well with Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Stephano Greene, who says Mr. Miller cannot carry out that action because it would be in breach of the industrial agreement with the union.

But while speaking with reporters yesterday, Mr. Miller said he believes the decision is just.

“We are in discussions with the union in regard to that, but a tentative decision was made that because BEC has lost some $22.6 million over the last 12 months and because of the situation we are in financially, it might have been prudent that we should delay or defer the $1.4 million bonous for all concerned. That is the executive staff, management and line staff,” he said.

“I just think that in these difficult times where all Bahamians are catching eternal hell that BEC workers must appreciate the fact that they are no different from anyone else. The people who are complaining about bonouses – the average worker makes $40,000 per annum. So they are still in good shape. I just think that some of the attitudes of these union fellas need to change and they need to come into the real world where most of us live.”

He continued, “The corporation is owned by the Bahamian people. If you are losing $22.6 million there is no such thing as what you cannot do. That money doesn’t belong to the union. It belongs to the Bahamian people.”

Mr. Miller said he doesn’t believe that BEC is overstaffed but that the workers have an attitude of entitlement.

Meanwhile, Mr. Greene has said that if BEC workers don’t get their money the only thing left to do for them to get money is to rob.

The BEC chairman took grave exception to that.

“I think Mr. Greene should take a walk to Sandilands and cool out for a while because to make that statement…I should go to the commissioner of police and report his actions so that the commissioner should ask him, who are these members in your union that are going to go out and rob Bahamians. That is a callous statement to make. It is unfortunate for him to make that statement. BEC is only required to pay salaries and 44 persons at BEC have made more than 100 per cent of their salary in overtime,” Mr. Miller said.

“That’s unacceptable in any country.”

Minister responsible for BEC Philip Davis said there are still more discussions to have with the union.

“I am awaiting the outcome of their discussions. The assurance that Mr. Greene has from me is that I will insist that the contract that we are a part of is honoured. If it is not going to be honoured then one would expect that we would have discussions with the parties to have it modified otherwise to suit both parties’ interest,” he said.

“I think it is unfortunate that they are now just discussing it because they would have had expectations.”

This is the second time in recent weeks that Mr. Miller and Mr. Greene have bucked heads.

The two publicly sparred over ‘double-dipping’ – a practice that allows workers to collect sick benefits from the National Insurance Board (NIB) and their full salary.

That practice is now under review for all government corporations.

Mr. Greene said union executives met with BEWU members yesterday and promised them that they would handle the Christmas bonous situation.

He said if the union does not make headway with government officials the executives will return to the members to chart the way forward.

Kendea Smith

Written by Kendea Smith

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