Categorized | National News

Customs, Immigration Union To Take Strike Vote —-Minister Promises to Cut Pay

Hundreds of workers at the Immigration and Customs departments could possibly go on strike next week if the results of a strike poll are in their favour on Friday.

Vice President of the Bahamas Customs Immigration Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) Sloane Smith announced yesterday that the union has already sent a letter to Minister of Labour Shane Gibson requesting that permission for a strike poll be granted.

There are approximately 1,100 members in the bargaining agreement.

Reports are that more than 500 of them are paid members who said they are ready to take action after the union filed a trade dispute with the government back in October.

That dispute addressed medical coverage and payment of utility bills and transportation allowances for non-uniformed workers in both New Providence and the Family Islands.

Months later and Mr. Smith said the government’s disregard for the issue has prompted them to request a strike pole.

“Today, I think it’s important to note that we’ve met with the government in the past, in this regard, and they did nothing within the time frame, consistent with the Industrial Relations Act,” he said.

“The government had a certain time frame to resolve the conflict and they’ve long exhausted it. The only reason we’ve not done anything subsequent to that is because we had an issue that was before the court. So now, all of our paid members will vote on the issues. Once that is done, we’re confident that the members will vote for the strike pole.”

Mr. Smith said he knows the labour minister does not want hundreds of immigration and customs workers to go on strike.

He added that he hopes Mr. Gibson does the right thing and be fair to those non-uniformed workers.

However, Mr. Gibson, who is off the island, told The Bahama Journal yesterday that while the workers’ strike vote might be approved, if they do take action then their salaries will be docked.

The minister insists the government will not be bullied and sent a message to the workers.

“No work, no pay,” he said.

The union vice president said the most important thing for them is the fact that they have no medical coverage and pointed to workers in Grand Bahama who are allegedly working in a mould infested building.

“The C. A. Smith Building houses the Customs and Immigration departments and other agencies,” he said.

“Our understanding is that in recent times, one ministry has been moved out of there because of mould issues. So we’re talking about health and safety. The majority of the people in that building are our non-uniform officers. They’re the ones who have to go to the hospital, dip into their pockets and pay for bills, seeking relief for whatever ailments accrue as a consequence.”

According to Mr. Smith, neither the Immigration nor Customs departments have had promotions in recent years.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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