Categorized | National News

TUC Backs Hamilton

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is throwing its support behind Ministry of Finance Parliamentary Secretary and South Beach MP Cleola Hamilton, whom the Opposition claims is in a conflict of interest because she also serves as Bahamas Nurses Union (BNU) president.

The Free National Movement (FNM) said recently that Ms. Hamilton needs to resign from her government post.
“To protect the integrity and stability of the labour movement in The Bahamas, it is absolutely imperative that Cleola Hamilton either resigns as a PLP MP and as a [parliamentary secretary] or tender her resignation as president of the Nurses Union and that of vice president of the TUC,” former Labour Minister Dion Foulkes said in a recent statement.
“Trade unionism in The Bahamas is based on the principle of clear and unambiguous independence between union leaders and employers. It is impossible to serve the PLP and be a loyal (parliamentary secretary), for which Ms. Hamilton took an oath, and also be faithful and loyal to the interest of nurses and the TUC.”
But, during a news conference at the House of Labour yesterday, TUC President Obie Ferguson said he couldn’t disagree more.

“That is the reason why we are always getting left behind. We are trying to represent workers. They are on some other things. We want someone who we can talk to. Someone who is prepared to carry the plight of the working man,” Mr. Ferguson said.

“In the House of Parliament you have many businessmen. We need someone to balance the situation. So where is the conflict? I would never, ever, ever, in my position as president suggest a situation that would lead the honourable member of parliament, president and first vice president of TUC in any compromising position.”

He also gave examples of other trade union heavyweights that also served in the Houses of Parliament like Sir Randolph Fawkes, Sir Clifford Darling and Sir Clement Maynard.

“Sir Randolph was the first minister of labour and he was the president of TUC and I never knew anyone outside of the Progressive Liberal Party, where he served who had a problem with that,” Mr. Ferguson said. “Where is the conflict? If you are there to represent the working people it doesn’t matter.”

He said that there are many leaders around the region who are involved in leadership positions in government and in unions like the prime minister of Antigua.

BNU Vice President Jannaa Khalfani said that the 2,000-strong union asked Ms. Hamilton to remain on as president.

“We are in the process of union negotiations with the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) and the Ministry of Health. And because we are still in the middle of completing the contractual agreement with PHA, the executives and the members of the BNU requested for Ms. Hamilton to stay on,” she said.

“This would be the second contract that we are signing in the history of The Bahamas for the nurses. She was there for the first, we are at the ending part of the second and we requested her to stay on and complete this and then she can move on and do what she needs to do to.”

The vice president also hit out at Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) President John Pinder, who said recently that Ms. Hamilton should have stepped down before she won her seat in the May 7 General Election.

“As far as I know, we did not elect John Pinder to speak on our behalf. We find it insulting and offensive,” Ms. Khalfani said.

“When it is time for Ms. Hamilton to leave we will have election and we will do what we will do. But we don’t need anyone suggesting to us, what we need to do. She is the president of the BNU and she will remain the president of the BNU until elections.”

Officials plan to conclude negotiations by the end of the year and expect to have elections by early next year.

Ms. Hamilton is not expected to offer herself as a candidate.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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