Categorized | National News

Another Union Blasts the BPSU

Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU) Vice President Sloane Smith on Thursday blasted the recent industrial agreement signed between the government and The Bahamas Public Services Union (BPSU) which bumped the salaries of minimum wage workers to $800 per year, and noted that it does not guarantee anything for those employees.

Mr. Smith said the agreement is not about the wellbeing of the workers and offers no guarantee for additional wage increases.

“So really they’re going to get a lump sum by August which is this month and next year they will have a discussion and then in the election year they hope to give them something but its contingent on something, further down it says the employer and the union agree that any payments indicated in this agreement may be deferred after appropriate consultation so nothing’s guaranteed, nothing’s guaranteed in this document,” he said.

“This is not about the people; this is about a group of persons who see an advantage at this time of giving something to the people.”

Last month the BPSU signed a five year agreement that gave nearly 2,000 minimum wage workers and increase in their salaries from $10,700 to $11,500 per year.

The agreement also offers hazard pay, increases in travel allowances, timely assessments, and a new promotional committee.

Breaking down the details of the agreement, Mr. Smith said that in the first year, workers will receive a lump sum of increments, in the second year, career path discussion and pension review, in the following year, a proposal to increase salaries to $1,200 per year.

However he said the salary increase is not only uncertain but comes at a time when workers would have already suffered under the additional financial burdens that are expected to come on stream next year.

“If you’re concerned about the hurt of these people – National Insurance just went up, put something on their salary to offset it at least for God’s sake and don’t put it in the third year, that thing already gone up so they’re already drowning and what do you do, you give them a little something and they’re still drowning and VAT hasn’t even arrived yet,” he said.

He added that if the government seeks to offer the same agreement to security forces, there will be an issue, adding that the government would need to renegotiate something far more economically reasonable for persons who put lives on the line every day.

On Wednesday representatives from The Bahamas Police Staff Association and Prison Staff Association joined Customs and Immigration representatives in a press conference to demand salary increases, better working conditions, and a political free promotion process among other issues as they threw their support behind the Trade Union’s Congress (TUC) threat for a nationwide strike.

Mr. Smith was not the only union member to blast the recent agreement with BPSU, the TUC President Obie Ferguson recently slammed the $150 minimum wage as ‘ungodly, unreasonable’ and insignificant.

Mr. Ferguson stressed that it should have been increased to $350.

Labour Minister Shane Gibson recently said he will not allow unions to shut the country down, adding that the government did its best to increase salaries given the state of the economy.

Mr. Gibson explained that despite international advice, the government refused to cut down the public service but yet increased salaries and maintained its workforce.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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