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Abaco Airport Workers Walkout

Minister of Tourism, Aviation & Bahamasair Dionisio D'Aguilar gives his contribution in the House of Assembly yesterday.

Security officers at the Leonard M. Thompson International Airport in Marsh Harbour, Abaco walked off the job on Saturday.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar told The Bahama Journal yesterday that the security officers walked off the job because of poor working conditions at the airport following Hurricane Dorian.

“I’m led to believe that a number of the security personnel at the Marsh Harbour Airport expressed displeasure with their working conditions and they did not feel that the Airport Authority was showing sufficient compassion and care to their state of affairs,” D’Aguilar said.

He explained that the Marsh Harbour Airport has 43 employees and 30 of them have left Abaco and were relocated to other parts of The Bahamas by the Airport Authority because of the destruction of their homes and their desire to leave as there’s  no place for them to live.  

The Airport Authority, he added, relocated the employees to other airports in Exuma, Eleuthera and Nassau.

As a result, D’Aguilar said, “That left 13 employees on the ground of which by the time you move the managers and other people, there were about eight to nine security officers, what I’m advised, and they decided to take industrial action.” 

As a result, Opposition Spokesperson on Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna-Martin said the walkout jeopardizes airport security at the facility.

“The airport workers say there has been absolutely no support forthcoming from either the Airport Authority or the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation, even though they were mandated to return to work within days of the natural disaster and despite their own personal devastating circumstances,” Hanna-Martin said.

“We are advised that in the face of their homelessness and traumatized condition, the authorities appear oblivious to or even worse, unconcerned with, their suffering and their general plight. As a consequence, airport security officers left their posts.

“We are forced to call upon Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar to step up and ensure the necessary support is being provided to all airport workers impacted by this deadly hurricane. It is very unfortunate that there has been no support of these victims of Hurricane Dorian until now, yet they have been required to protect our national interests.

“The lack of empathy and sensitivity displayed by leadership is shameful.  Further, in light of the recent walk out, the minister must guarantee the integrity of airport security at this port of entry.”

However, D’Aguilar said, “At no time was the airport left in an unsecure state because we were able to, and had been anyway, bringing security officers from Nassau and firefighters from Nassau, flying them down to Marsh Harbour and they were actually living in the airport, camping in the airport on a three day on cycle and then they came back to Nassau.” 

The minister of tourism and aviation pointed out that the employees who walked off the job were elected to remain in Abaco.

“They claimed that they had no family elsewhere.  Their homes did not sustain substantial damage and were in essence livable and they decided that oh, they had family relations they could go to.  So they elected to remain in Abaco, even though the Airport Authority had offered that they wanted to leave,” D’Aguilar said.

“So, the conditions at the airport are yes, not ideal.  Bear in mind, we’ve had the worst hurricane in the history of The Bahamas and so we are trying as best as we can to improve the working conditions at the airport.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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