Categorized | National News

Labour Director Weighs In On Sandals Saga

After a protest in Cable Beach last week that saw several Bahamas Maintenance and Allied Workers Union (BHMAWU) members arrested, Director of Labour Robert Farquharson has clarified comments made by Trade Union Congress (TUC) President Obie Ferguson who claimed that the labour director said that it wasn’t in his power to make Sandals CEO Butch Stewart meet with the union.

In an interview with The Bahama Journal, Farquharson said the representatives for the hotel made claims as to why the conciliation process should be suspended, in which he did not oblige.

“What happened is this – the Department of Labour in keeping with the provisions of the industrial relations act facilitated a conciliation meeting. The attorney for the hotel (Lennox Paton & CO) came to the Department of Labour to represent the hotel in the trade dispute. They put forth a proposal and asked because there is a judicial review and an active Supreme Court matter that has implications on the trade dispute, that we suspend the process of conciliation,” he said.

“After we consulted with the Office of the Attorney General, we decided not to suspend the conciliation process and we asked that the hotel come to the conciliation meeting to address the issue. Since then, the lawyer for the hotel has not come to conciliation and that matter has been passed over to the Office of the Attorney General to figure out what is the next step forward.”

Farquharson added that his department has done everything in its power to help facilitate this process and he says the onus is now on the government.

“The union has been issued with a legal certificate to strike; they now have the legal right to strike in the furtherance of a trade dispute. I am of the view that if they have the support of the workers, they will do everything in their power under the law for the furtherance of that trade dispute including strike if they have to,” he said.

“I firmly believe the union has done all that it can to try and force Sandals back to the bargaining table. Because the matter is still in front of the Supreme Court, as the director of labour I’m prohibited from intervening.

“The Department of Labour has done what it can do under the provisions outlined in the law.The matter was referred to the Office of the Prime Minister and any feedback should come from the Office of the Prime Minister.”

Section 41(1) of the Bahamas Industrial Relations Act notes that all employers should recognize a trade union of which more than 50 percent of the employees are members.

Moreover, sub-section 41(3) calls for employers who are refusing to recognize a sanctioned union to be prosecuted and, if found guilty of the offence, face a fine not exceeding $5,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.





Written by Jones Bahamas

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