Categorized | National News

Employees Demand Hazard Pay—Issues Should Be Resolved Next Week

Hundreds of employees from the Ministry of Works claim that they are owed thousands of dollars in hazard pay.

According to an industrial agreement signed in 2005 by former Minister of Labour Vincent Peet, then Minister of Public Service Fred Mitchell and then Director of Labour Harcourt Brown, all the hazard allowances are listed with the rates at which they should be paid.

Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) Executive Vice President Kimsley Ferguson said the workers have not been paid from 2005.

“We have in our hands an industrial agreement signed by this particular administration in 2005,” he told the Bahama Journal.

“This says the hazard pay for all the people at the Ministry of Works will be paid from 2005. We are now in 2014 and nobody has received any compensation of any sort. We have plumbers, painters, electricians, masons and carpenters and it covers all those hazardous areas that these people encounter during their work. It’s a small thing to ask in the event that these people are injured in the line of duty seeing that we don’t have health insurance.”

He said they have been asking for health insurance for a long time and that seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

“This is only a small thing to ask in the event something happens to one of these people so they can still see the doctor and be treated properly,” Mr. Ferguson said.

“This affects hundreds of employees and not only in the Ministry of Works but across other government departments where they have technicians of any sort. If you look at the air-condition technicians for example, when you decide to gas up an air-condition unit the agreement clearly states that it could be hazardous to an individual’s health. We just need the government to understand that these people need to be compensated in the vent something happens to them that their families have some means of taking care of them.”

Licensed plumber at the ministry Theophilus Dean agreed and said that his family is suffering as a result of not being paid.

“The plumbers come under six of the categories in the agreement,” he said.

“Plumbers work in some of the most hazardous conditions. I haven’t gotten a dime and I just need some help. I’m asking the government to give me what is owed to me to help with my family and all the other expenses that I have. It’s in our agreement so we are simply asking for what, by law, is ours.”

Some of the situations, the employees can receive hazardous pay for include working in or around septic tanks, pits, sewer, being at heights of 30 feet or more, working with dusty substances and the list continues, according to the agreement.

The rates start at $1.50 per hour and up.

Minister of Works Philip Davis told the Journal that he was just made aware of the situation yesterday and that he hopes to have it rectified by the end of next week.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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