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Ferguson: PM Has To Intervene In Sandals Saga

Trade Union Congress President Obie Ferguson said he is quite displeased that several of his members – including Sandals workers – were arrested and subsequently charged for their involvement in Tuesday’s protest in their push for better wages and treatment from the all inclusive resort.

The men used their dump trucks to block a section of West Bay Street, creating a traffic nightmare for that area’s early morning commuters.

He addressed the issue during a press conference yesterday and urged the prime minister to intervene.

“Prime Minster you’re the leader of The Bahamas. You run this little town. I’m asking you as prime minister to do the right thing for these workers.

“Show the workers of The Bahamas that you have a position that makes sense for the workers of this country. Mr. Butch (Stewart) could come to The Bahamas and do as he pleases. The minister said he can’t even get the man in a meeting, and so did the registrar.

“What are we supposed to do as trade union leaders? All we’re asking for is justice and for them to level the playing field,” Mr. Ferguson said.

 As for the protest, Mr. Ferguson insists there was really no need for the police to get involved as all the participants did not do anything illegal and were well in their rights as Bahamians.

“We have about eight officers who are in police custody. The police questioned them on whether they have the right to picket without a permit.

“Since when in The Bahamas a permit is required to picket or to demonstrate? I know it has been a practice but that isn’t the law. You do not need the police’s permission to demonstrate.The law is where there is a trade union involved in the furtherance of a trade dispute, that trade union leader is immune from criminal prosecution, that’s the law of The Bahamas,” he said.

Mr. Ferguson added that in 2011 the case appeared in front of the Privy Council who ruled that the Sandals workers are to be represented by the union but the government has yet to act on this ruling and hold Sandals executives accountable.

“We are calling on all Bahamians to put fire to the government and ensure that Sandals subject itself to the law, I have to, you have to, so should they.

“Sandals must subject itself to the Constitution of The Bahamas. They have failed to agree to sit down to discuss an industrial agreement which is fundamental in the relationship between the union and the employer.

“Their failure to do so is a criminal offence. The government has failed to hold them accountable and the only thing left for Sandals workers to do is go on strike. ”

The Journal reached out to Sandals General Manager Gary Williams for a response, however, calls were not returned.



Written by Jones Bahamas

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