It seems union workers at the Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) have won their fight against their chairman, Leslie Miller – at least for now.
On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works, Philip Davis – who is responsible for BEC – confirmed that the monies that were deducted from the workers’ salaries would be reinstated.
Those workers will begin getting their monies today.
Last week, BEC Chairman Leslie Miller put an end to what he referred to as “double dipping” – a process where union members collect sick benefits from the National Insurance Board (NIB) in addition to their full salary while they are not on the job.
According to Mr. Miller, BEC spent $3 million on sick pay between September 2012 and September 2013.
BEC, he added, spent more than $3 million on sick pay in the previous year.
The Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU), headed by Stephano Greene, recently threatened legal as well as industrial action if the monies were not returned to his members.
“The meeting was to confirm that he had sent a directive to cause the salaries that were deducted to be reinstated so the people [on Tuesday] will get their salaries until such time as some arrangement can be made with the union regarding that matter,” said Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder during an interview with The Bahama Journal last evening.
“This is the money that the chairman wishes to be deducted from persons’ salaries from November 1 who would have benefited from NIB as a result of being sick. He wanted to recover those amounts. It was not in following with the established protocols and he was advised not to do that. However, he gave directives to cause that to happen, but after consultation with the minister of labour and the deputy prime minister [Sunday] that decision was reversed. So, persons should enjoy their salaries.”
He added, “There may be some situations where the accounts department may not have been able to get it posted to the bank in time; if that’s the case they will receive a cheque to cover the amount that was deducted from the salaries.”
Mr. Pinder said once a few outstanding matters pertaining to issues of overtime pay are resolved, the union will be willing to head back to the bargaining table and discuss an industrial agreement.
The BEWU’s industrial agreement expired last year.
The union has been operating under the terms of the expired agreement until a new one is signed.