Categorized | National News

Officers Prepare To Strike

Over 7,000 law enforcement officers throughout the country announced yesterday that they are on the verge of striking if their medical insurance is not re-instated by the prime minister.

During a press conference yesterday, Bahamas Customs, Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) Vice-President Sloan Smith said they have already began making rounds to all union members in the Family Islands to ensure that there is a consensus.

Ever since the government changed the medical coverage through Colina for all law enforcement officers last month, representatives from the Defense and Police Force, Immigration, Customs and Maritime Departments have voiced their disagreement.

In some instances, out of pocket costs for the officers have increased by 300 per cent compared to the previous agreement.
“Government seems to only understand force,” he said.

“We already have a majority but it’s important that we talk to our other members. If they say go for it, then we will proceed, unless they say otherwise, which I don’t think they would do. We are absolute in proceeding to get a strike poll where the minister of labour would have that supervised.”

According to Mr. Smith, over the weekend a prison officer tried to see a doctor for an ailment, but because the out of pocket costs was so high, he was unable to pay.

That officer died.

“If there is a direct relationship between him not getting assistance because of the high cost, then somebody has to pay,” he said.

“I would suggest to that family and all such families, because of this medical insurance not being agreed upon by us, and the contract being broken that they would try and get some kind of reparations for what has happened.”

Prime Minister Perry Christie told reporters last week that he is willing to meet with the officers to discuss the matter.
However, Mr. Smith said unless the prime minister wants to meet to announce that their medical insurance had been put back to what it was, then he sees no reason why they should meet.

“The same honourable prime minister made the decision to change the medical without consulting us. We could get together and get a lawsuit against the government you know. But we chose the avenues available to us in the law and we went and filed a trade dispute,” he said.

“That was simply to get his office and the office of the minister of immigration to change it. If they change it, there’s no need for us to go on strike.”

Mr. Smith said this is not a threat, but “the truth.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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