Categorized | National News

Labour Leaders Optimistic About New Gov’t

After years of an at times combative relationship with the previous administration, labour leaders say they are optimistic about relations with the new government and according to President of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Obie Ferguson workers should expect to see significant gains.

Mr. Ferguson said that the neglect and disregard that workers felt from the Ingraham administration played a significant role in the Free National Movement’s (FNM) election defeat.

He said the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) campaign that highlighted putting Bahamians first resonated with workers.

“I am absolutely certain, without reservation, that the working people from these respective unions that had great difficulty accessing the minister for meetings – those things played a major role in workers deciding whether they would vote for the FNM or the PLP,” he said.

“The workers of this country supported the PLP. In Grand Bahama, the workers supported the PLP because they said they party believed in Bahamians. They followed my advice and did not support a party that did not stand for them. I am satisfied in that regard.”

Mr. Ferguson said that he expects a more amicable and productive relationship under the Christie administration since the government has already demonstrated that it is a labour-friendly government.

In the last few months of the FNM Government, there were several high profile labour disputes and industrial action.
Most recently, Customs and Immigration officers withdrew their services for more than a week in protest of working conditions, wages and other benefits.

Mr. Ferguson said that the Ingraham administration miscalculated the outrage felt by the workers who maintained voted in large numbers for the PLP.
While he noted that the PLP has the support of workers right now, he cautioned the government to learn from the mistakes of the previous administration.

“The new government has made some commitments to education – that’s a big thing to them,” Mr. Ferguson said.

“We intend to give the government a week or two to settle in, which is the proper thing to do. We will then go to the government to resolve some outstanding issues. We could not resolve them before because the former labour minister refused to meet. We never wanted to go on strike – that was never our intention, but I will not hire you to fire me and I said to the workers do not hire a man or a woman if they are trying to fire you.

“It certainly appears that the PLP government is a labour-friendly government. It is quite obvious, both Cleola Hamilton and Shane Gibson are in there – they are trade union leaders.”

Mr. Gibson, the newly appointed minister of labour, is a former president of the Bahamas Communications and Public Officers Union (BCPOU) and Mrs. Hamilton, a newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, previously served as the president of the Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU).

Written by Jones Bahamas

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