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Union Confident About Customs Strike Poll

The union is expected to find out as early as today whether it has secured sufficient votes to request a strike certificate, a move that would pave the way for strike action.

On Friday Vice President of The Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) Sloane Smith told the Bahama Journal he was confident that the union would “successfully” secure a strike certificate based on the number of union members who would have voted.

Based on the results at that time, Mr. Smith added that there were more ‘Yes’ votes and only an estimated five per cent of the populace would have voted ‘No.’

The union’s vice president said the government has proven that it is not prepared to negotiate, therefore the union continued with its strike poll on Friday.

“So clearly the revenue earners in this country, Customs and Immigration are certainly not important to the government and we understand that because you [the government] have shown that to us,” he said.

“The fact is we had Minister Gibson making the statement that he is not going to give anything to Customs and Immigration. So what reason do we just consciously have to come to the table when you told us you’re not giving us anything?”

More than 500 members were expected to participate in the strike poll.

Union members were expected to cast their votes either in support of or against the idea of taking strike action.

The union recently lost a court battle to have its shift system overturned but has refused to work the controversial shift system.

During a press conference last week, then Acting Minister of Labour V. Alfred Gray, issued a warning to union members telling them that if there was any refusal or failure to report to their assigned shifts, these actions would be viewed as a breach of their employment.

He added that the shift system must remain in place until the court says otherwise, but he said the union is not challenging the court’s ruling.

“We are in no position to question anything the court does but what we have in fact is a trade dispute that has led to where we are today,” he said.

“What is contained in that ruling is clear; we don’t question that, what we have to do in terms of appeals that will be happening.”

He also addressed the government’s notion that the union lost the case.

“Everybody is saying that from the government side we lost the court case,” Mr. Smith said. “That’s their contention but my president correctly asked the question, if we’ve lost the case, why has the judge ordered us back to court to conclude some of the matters?” he said.

“Look at the rulings; we’re not going to get caught up in that.”

Union members voted at the Lynden Pindling International Airport Immigration Department, the Department of Customs on Thompson Blvd and the Immigration Department on Hawkins Hill.

Polling stations were also set up at various department offices on the Family Islands.

Mr. Smith said an unofficial count was expected to be available by 6:00 p.m. on Friday.

The results of the count have not yet been released.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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