Categorized | National News

Labour Minister Unaware of Pending Industrial Agreements

President of Trade Union Congress (TUC) Obie Ferguson recently announced that 10 industrial agreements were outstanding for various unions; however, Minister of Labour Shane Gibson said yesterday that he is only aware of two outstanding industrial agreements.

“Which 10,” he asked. “We have two sets of industrial agreements, all of the industrial agreements that we met outstanding when we came to office in May 2012, all of them were dealt with an agreed too even if they have not been executed except the Bahamas Customs and Immigration, the doctors industrial agreement has not been executed but we already have a position on it where we’re going through the process in having it executed officially.

“The industrial agreements that expired subsequent to us coming in office, we’re now arranging to go to the table to negotiate those but all of those that we met outstanding which were about 12 I think, were dealt with except Bahamas Customs and Immigration and maybe the Bahamas Professional Pilots Association, that one wasn’t agreed to either so those two are outstanding but you had some that expired last year which we’re in the process of negotiating.”

Last week, The Bahamas Industrial Manufacturers and Allied Workers Union (BIMAWU) called on the government to intervene and urge the management of Morton Salt Company to negotiate the signing of an industrial agreement that has been outstanding for five years.

BIMAWU President Jennifer Brown said that their union is prepared to team up with its umbrella organisation to take part in the looming nationwide strike.

TUC officials recently announced that they are still prepared to execute a labour strike after their recent meeting last week with Minister Gibson yielded no results.

TUC Director of Communications Fred Munnings urged the government to use it powers to force employers to sit to the table with union leaders and employees to negotiate out outstanding agreements.

However, Minister Gibson said that the government is unable to force an employer to do so.

“There are several issues that we are looking at that’s really causing a lot of stress on employees, one of the things for instance is failure to negotiate, where many of the unions. We could instruct those who work for the government but how is it that the government go into the private sector, we could encourage you and try to persuade you but we can’t instruct you to do it.”

Despite a number of challenges Minister Gibson said that there are many provisions in the Employment Act and the Industrial Relations Act that the government wants to change.

“We now have before parliament a Tri-Partite Bill, which really legislates social dialogue, which means that government by themselves will not be able to amend certain laws without the agreement or the concurrence of the Tri-partite body which would be the government, the employer and the employee,” he said.

According to the TUC there are pending industrial agreements for The Bahamas Nurses Union, Bahamas Doctors Union, Bahamas Educators Managerial Union, Bahamas Hotel Catering and Allied Workers Union, Bahamas Customs and Immigration and Allied Workers Union, Commonwealth Hotel Services and Workers Union, Bahamas Water and Sewage Management Union, Electric Utility Management Union, Bahamas Air Traffic Controllers, and The Bahamas Hotel Managerial Association.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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