Over 200 Ministry of Public Works workers, angry that a meeting to air their concerns never happened, announced that they are on work to rule until next week.
The workers’ union representatives were supposed to meet with Minister of Works, Philip Davis, who is also the deputy prime minister.
Work to rule means that the workers will not go beyond the call of duty to accommodate employers.
On Wednesday, the employees, who make up the ministry’s maintenance department, pounded the pavement in protest of the meeting’s postponement.
According to Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder, the workers are agitated over a myriad of issues.
“They met with the deputy prime minister two months ago on some outstanding issues involving the whole maintenance department,” he told The Bahama Journal in an interview yesterday.
“They’re biggest concern is that of their hazard pay in relation to what has been agreed to in our industrial agreement between the Bahamas Government and the union. In addition to their career paths, they have been trying to get them to make some amendments to the career path for electricians, persons in the air conditioning area, plumbing areas and those maintenance staffers at the Ministry of Works.”
Mr. Pinder said the workers are encountering roadblocks in their quest to get promotions because the bar has been set to high.
But, the union head said officials were making some headway with negotiations.
“We have discussed this and the deputy prime minister is certainly supporting the recommendations being made by the union. But, we were supposed to have a follow-up meeting and that never took place. But there was a breakdown in communications and the guys took it upon themselves to force us into making sure that the meeting took place,” Mr. Pinder said.
“But, the deputy prime minister has now agreed to a meeting from Monday morning and so they decided until such time after this meeting takes place they will go on work to rule.”
Minister Davis said he was surprised by the demonstration.
“I only became aware of it as I was leaving my office and the president of the union had spoken to me and said there was supposed to be a meeting with me about a week or so ago about the workers who were affected,” he said.
“The workers that demonstrated this morning – I waited on them for the meeting but they did not turn up. So I was shocked to see them walking out there this morning. The president has asked to see me and I will see him on Monday. I’m not sure of what all the issues might be. I know there are one or two issues but government had a freeze or promotions. That freeze is being lifted, so in due course those matters will be attended to.”