Categorized | National News

Labour Minister Invites MOW Employees To Provide List of Concerns

Labour Minster Shane Gibson said he requested those angry Ministry of Works employees who held a rowdy protest outside Cabinet Tuesday morning to deliver a list of the issues they are encountering to him in a bid to quickly resolve the matter.

“I’m not sure what the details are because we have met with the prime minster and the leaders of the NCTUB (National Congress of Trade Unions of The Bahamas) and TUC (Trade Union Congress) last week, we met again yesterday (Monday) and they gave us a list of all the concerns of all of the trade unions and we’ve committed to meeting with them tomorrow (Wednesday) night to see how those issues can be addressed by me as minister and then those ones that have to be escalated,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the issue that’s been brought to our attention now about the demonstration downtown (Tuesday) morning wasn’t on that list and so the prime minister asked them earlier today to present us with a list which should be at cabinet now waiting on me, we would go through the list and we will see how we can work out those issues as well.”

Hundreds of employees from the Ministry of Works flooded Rawson Square on Tuesday to protest unfavorable working conditions and salaries among other issues.

The labour minister also took the time to address claims from the protesters who said that they have been unable to meet with him for negotiations regarding their complaints.

“They would never tell you that we are not meeting with them, what they would say is that they’re not getting their issues resolved because they are some issues that you simply cannot resolve overnight,” he said.

The labour minister added that for those cases which involve salary increases, the government’s hands are tied due to a lack of funds.

“We’re trying to create consistency amongst everybody whose salary ultimately comes out of the consolidated fund and so if you’re a teacher, if you’re a public service union member you want an increase as well,” he said.

“Air traffic controllers want it, nurses, doctors, College of The Bahamas, Bahamas Electricity Corporation, ZNS, Water and Sewage want it. All of those are subsidised by consolidated funds so how can we agree to give one group of employees increase and tell the other group we can’t give it to them, you got to be consistent across the board and that is where we ran into problems in the past. The money is not there, we’re not saying that they don’t deserve it, in many cases if I had my way and we had the money I would agree right away, fact of the matter is unfortunately we don’t have the funding, we’re going through some challenging times now in the country.”

He admitted though, that the government is faced with additional challenges which include expanding the economy and creating jobs for an estimated 30,000 people who are unemployed in the country.

However, when asked if the government should be considering a salary increase for parliamentarians due to the state of the economy, Minister Gibson declined to offer an opinion.

“I think that was totally exhausted by those who spoke to it already and I don’t want to follow up on that,” he said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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