Categorized | National News

Union Fights For Medical Insurance

The Bahamas Educators Managerial Union (BEMU) is putting pressure on the government to provide its 375 members with medical insurance.

BEMU President Charles Wildgoose made the announcement at a news conference at the House of Labour yesterday.

BEMU officials said the union, which represents principals and administrators, became fully established on March 16.

Mr. Wildgoose said since then, the union has been looking to gain medical insurance – a benefit the Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) recently received.

The president said he believes that the government has been cherry picking who should be recipients of the $400 insurance premium.

“We are not blaming our members for wanting insurance under BUT because they felt the need to be covered. But we are concerned about this process. After we were recognised, we sought all of the benefits entitled to us. But we are the duly recognised agent for all educational managers and we feel that we have a right to the group medical plan,” Mr. Wildgoose said.

“We are concerned that some of the members received medical insurance and some were rejected. We do not know why.”

The president said that recently the union approached Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald over the issue and he, in turn, referred the matter to the Attorney General’s Office.

“We need to meet with the government,” he said. “We have met with Colina Insurance officials and they presented a medical plan at the principal’s forum. Our members were very excited. All we need now is government’s official clearance that they would agree to pay 80 per cent of the premiums of our members’ plan like they did with BUT.”

Mr. Wildgoose also said that’s not the only issue the union is grappling with.

It also takes exception to the government transferring its members without going through a proper process.

“All through the summer I have gotten a lot of calls. I think the director of education made a decision to shake things up to try to get better results from our education system. But the concern is the process because our union is here and it’s in our collective bargaining agent and we feel that BEMU needs to be consulted during the transfer process,” he said.

“We have met with the director and he has sought to work with us but because we are a new union this will set the tone for us in the future. We also have concerns about promotions. We have concerns that the process is not as transparent as it should be.”

The BEMU president said the union is also upset that none of its members were called to the National Advisory Council for Education.

“However, one of the most important stakeholders – the BEMU – was either inadvertently or deliberately excluded from being accounted to the council. This is but one of the aforementioned divisive isolationist and exclusionary tactics being perpetrated against our union. Why is it that the other five stakeholders were named to the council and not the union that is legally recognised as the official ‘voice for educational managers and supervisors,” he said.

Mr. Wildgoose said the union wants to make the minister’s job as easy as possible.

“I know that we are going to have a good relationship. He is new to education and so is the permanent secretary. But we are all Bahamians and we know that he means well,” he said.

The union is expected to have a meeting with Minister Fitzgerald today.

Officials are expected to have another meeting with Labour Minister Shane Gibson on Monday.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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