Categorized | Featured, National News

Gov’t Issues Warning to BCIAWU Members

Alfred Gray

The government adopted a no nonsense approach to members of the Bahamas Customs Immigration and Allied Workers Union (BCIAWU), who despite losing a bid to have the matter overturned in court have refused to work as assigned under the controversial shift system.

During a press conference at the Public Services Department Acting Minister of Labour V. Alfred Gray spoke out against the employees’ actions, noting the ruling issued by Honourable Justice Ian Winder (Acting).

“It should be noted that the ruling issued did not invalidate the shift system nor did it state that the shift system should be suspended,” he said.

“Additionally, the filing of a writ does not have the effect of reverting the officers’ hours of work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Consequently, the present status quo, being the shift system, must remain until an order of the court says otherwise.”

He added that the shift system was agreed upon by the Bahamas Public Service Union, the then bargaining agent for customs and immigration officers.

Therefore, new customs and immigration officers were hired for positions which were advertised as operation under a shift system and such terms form a part of the terms and conditions of their employment.

On that note, Mr. Gray issued a warning to those employees who refuse to work according to the shift system.

“Failure and refusal of these officers to work their assigned shifts will be viewed as a breach of their terms of employment and a breach of the rules of the public service,” he said.

“Further attendance at their non-assigned hours should not be permitted by the departments concerned. We expect that all officers would conform to the expressed rules of the public service and those which are included in the industrial agreement.”

Mr. Gray declined to comment on what would happen to employees who refuse to follow such rules.

He said that would be the responsibility of Shane Gibson who he said “will do the right thing for the right reason.”

The shift system was introduced in 2010.

It was then that the BCIAWU challenged the system and took the matter to Supreme Court to have the government overturn its decision.

The union was hoping the court would see things its way, arguing that the system should not have been implemented in the first place without its approval but Supreme Court Justice Winder disagreed.

The union has since fired back with threats of industrial action and on Monday it announced plans to take a strike poll on Friday.

Vice President of the BCIAWU Sloane Smith said the union will not be intimidated by the government.

The negotiating team is prepared to resume such talks as early as today.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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